First pick

Nolan Flamand of the Saskatoon Blazers was the Kelowna Rockets first pick in Thursday's Western Hockey League bantam draft. He went 27th overall.

Nolan Flamand has already witnessed one dream come true, and he’s prepared to battle it out for another.

The 15-year-old Kelowna Rockets prospect fully admits he was over the moon when the club selected him in the second round of the Western Hockey League draft this spring.

“I was at home with my family, just jumping around having a good time,” he said at Kelownarockets.com.

“It’s a great feeling being here.”

Flamand is one of more than 150 Kelowna Rockets prospects in town this week for rookie camp. The players are all 15 or 16 years old, and only a select few will even dress a handful of games this season due to league rules around rookies.

Among the Rockets’ 2019 draftees from this spring, Flamand was Kelowna’s first selection.

Kelowna Rockets president and GM, Bruce Hamilton, said the team’s scouting staff had Flamand rated as a first-round selection.

He fell to them with the 27th overall pick in the second round, a gift they plan on cherishing.

“Nobody could figure that out,” Hamilton told The Daily Courier last week. “It’s pretty exciting for the scouting staff, anyway.”

Flamand was drafted out of the Saskatoon Blazers of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League.

In 59 regular-season games, he scored six goals and 28 assists while racking up just four penalty minutes.

He added four assists in 13 playoff games.

Flamand was actually playing an age-division higher last season, a 14-year-old player battling against 15 year olds.

He said it’s prepared him to fight against older players this week, something he’s aware he will likely do his whole career.

“It just taught me to be stronger in my mindset,” he said.

That mental fortitude is coming in handy this week, Flamand said.

The Rockets camp is five days of intense workouts.

He said he’s just tried to stay confident — and hydrated. “The games are very physical,” Flamand said. “There’s a lot of good talent out here, a lot of good things to learn.”

The chance at playing for a team he’s always followed and admired is too much to let some fatigue slow him down, anyway.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to play here,” he said. “I’ve wanted so long to come into this camp, and I can’t wait to join the Rockets.”

The Rockets are also anxious, especially if he can live up to his own high expectations. Flamand admires Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, a three-time Stanley Cup winner and two-time Olympic gold medalist.

“He’s so good on his edges,” Flamand said. “He’s hard to knock off the puck. He can make plays, and if he has a chance to score, he can score.”

While Flamand is still a few years away from following Sid the Kid’s footsteps, he does have a solid plan in place.

Flamand told the Rockets he will embrace a leadership role with the Blazers this year, hope to play his first Western Hockey League game, and perhaps be in Kelowna when the Rockets host the Memorial Cup this spring.

“We’ll have to see how the year goes.”

Rookie camp concludes on Friday.

Email: dave.trifunov@ok.bc.ca