Ryan Huska is going places. As in the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame this summer.
The B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame on Tuesday announced its inductees for the Class of 2013, and leading the way are two former NHLers in Paul Kariya and Mark Recchi. Also being inducted will be the Kamloops Blazers' Memorial Cup-winning squads of 1993-94 and 94-95. Huska played four seasons with Kamloops and wound up winning three national titles with the Blazers during their mighty heydays. The induction will take place July 26 at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton.
"It's great being a floater on a good team!" Huska joked on Wednesday.
His stats say otherwise.
During his final season in the WHL, 1994-95 as an over-age player, Huska was seventh in team scoring with 27 goals and 67 points in 66 games. In 17 playoff games that spring, the Trail product registered 7 goals and 15 points.
Darcy Tucker was the team's top scorer during the regular season (64 games, 64-73-137) and the playoffs (21 games, 16-15-31).
But those days are long gone, much like the Kelowna Rockets' heydays between 2003-05 and '09. Still, looking back is pleasurable for Huska, as the bonds of friendship the team built then are still strong today.
One great example is the respect Huska and then-Blazers head coach Don Hay, now with the Vancouver Giants, have for one another.
"I think it's a great honour for our team," said Huska, who has been Kelowna's head coach since July 24, 2007. "It was pretty cool to be a part of that group. The quality of people that were there at that time, it made it a lot of fun to come to the rink. A lot of us grew up together - we had the same core of guys together. We found a way to have some success, so it was a wonderful experience."
Huska added that "when you spend so much time with a group of guys that wins, you become really good friends because you have something in common, and you went through some pretty tough times with and some great times with. You become really tight and you stay that way."
Huska has seen that theory as a player with Kamloops and a coach with Kelowna.
"Absolutely. It doesn't change because it's the same principles," he said. "People that you're working with every day, people that you compete with and especially people that you win with, you develop relationships and you're able to carry those on."
OK, enough about the past.
Tonight, the Rockets (41-13-3-1) host the Everett Silvertips (21-31-1-4) at Prospera Place. Game time is 7:05 p.m., and it'll be the second meeting between the two clubs in five days. On Sunday, the Rockets jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in Everett, then hung on for a 3-2 victory. The win snapped a three-game losing streak.
That contest was Kelowna's third in three games and fourth in five nights. Since then, the team has had a few days' rest, including a rare off-day on Monday.
"(Monday) was a quick day, but our players enjoyed it," said Huska, whose squad will playing another three-in-three this week, as the Rockets have a home-and-home series with Kamloops this Friday and Saturday. "The nice thing about (Monday) was that it was a complete day off for our school guys as well, so they didn't have to go to school because of the Family Day holiday. So it was a good day where everybody got a chance to rest a little."
Asked if one day's rest really means that much, Huska said "absolutely it does. The physical side of getting (a day's rest) is important, but the mental side - after four games in five nights, after a tough weekend for us - getting a day off and a chance to stay away from the rink helps."
ICE CHIPS: Kelowna is 6-3-1-0 in its past 10 games; Everett is 2-5-1-2. . . . Kelowna is 24-4-0-o at home; Everett's road record is 10-17-1-0. . . . Kelowna is 3-0 against Everett this season.