Dillon Hamaliuk

The Kelowna Rockets traded for forward Dillon Hamaliuk during the off-season in hopes of contending for the 2020 Memorial Cup.

Kelowna Rockets forward Dillon Hamaliuk has been itching to get back in the game since Dec. 29, 2018.

The 18-year-old was forced to leave the Seattle Thunderbirds game against the Portland Winterhawks with a lower-body injury that would end his season. While he hasn’t been able to play, things haven’t slowed down over the last 5 1/2 months.

Before the injury, he was on NHL Central Scouting’s radar. After a strong start to the campaign, he was rated as a B-prospect on the November Players To Watch List, indicating he could be a potential second- or third-round selection.

In 31 games last season, Hamaliuk pick had 15 goals and 26 assists. He credits his spike in his scoring with training and confidence.

“Everything starts in the summer, having a skating coach this past year really helped me,” said Hamaliuk. “I came into the season with a lot of confidence; the game came a little easier to me. Once I started scoring more my confidence continued to grow.”

The Leduc, Alta., product was rewarded for his efforts with a spot on Team WHL’s roster for Game 2 of the 2018 CIBC Canada Russia Series, last November in Langley.

Then came the injury. It didn’t deter Central Scouting from keeping Hamaliuk on its midterm rankings, and he was given a limited viewing rank.

 The six-foot-three, 195-pound left-winger watched the Thunderbirds season come to an end during the first round of the WHL playoffs; Seattle fell to the eventual western conference champion Vancouver Giants in six games.

While transitioning into off-season mode, he was shocked to learn that the Rockets had acquired him alongside two other teammates in a draft day blockbuster trade.

“I wasn’t really expecting to be traded. My first thought after being told was they’re hosting the Memorial Cup, so this is going to be awesome. I’m happy to have been traded to Kelowna, I can’t wait for next season.”

He didn’t make Central Scouting’s final rankings, but he was still invited to participate in the NHL’s scouting combine earlier this month in Buffalo, N.Y. The week-long combine allowed all 31 NHL teams to evaluate the top prospects ahead of this month’s draft in Vancouver. Hamaliuk only participated in the interview and medical portion as he continued to recover. Along with meeting with prospective teams, he was also introduced to a couple of his new teammates.

“I didn’t get to do the fitness testing, but I got to talk to quite a few teams. I felt that the meetings went well and I’m excited for the draft. I also got to meet Kaedan Korczak and Nolan Foote and talk to them about what’s to come.”

Hamaliuk has been working hard during his recovery, he’ll be ready to go in time for Rockets training camp in August. He gave kelownarockets.com a self-scouting report for fans.

“Fans can expect a big power forward. I love hitting guys and I love to score goals, those are a couple of things that they can expect.”

Packages for the 2020 Memorial Cup are now available to current and future 2019-20 Kelowna Rockets season ticket holders by contacting Andrew Deans or Gavin Hamilton at 250-860-7825.

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