Despite all his accomplishments up until this point, there are still no guarantees for Nolan Foote.
The Kelowna Rockets captain was one of 17 forwards invited to Team Canada’s selection camp Monday ahead of the World Junior Championship after Christmas.
Foote is a first-round draft choice of the Tampa Bay Lightning, leads the Rockets with 30 points in 23 games and was a leading scorer at Team Canada’s summer showcase tournament.
Heck, he scored four goals (twice in regulation, twice in a shootout) to help the WHL all-stars beat Team Russia on Nov. 15.
What more can the guy do? Well, helping Kelowna win the next two games in Saskatchewan with scouts in attendance would be a good start.
“They’re still going to be watching those two games against Saskatoon and P.A.,” Foote said Monday after practice. “Then, I fly out Sunday and those two games against USports (all-stars) is going to be a big test.”
Hockey Canada revealed its tryout roster on Monday, with 31 players vying for 23 spots. Training camp begins Dec. 9 in Oakville, Ont., and will include those aforementioned games Ontario university players Dec. 11-12.
Foote should have an inside track on cracking Team Canada. At six-foot-four and 200 pounds, he’s looked like a man among boys to start the WHL season.
But you can never tell, year-to-year, how coaches and management will shape the team.
There are only three returning players to Team Canada, and many question marks.
“It’s going to be tight,” Foote said. “There’s a lot of skilled forwards, a lot of good talent, a lot of good prospects who are expected to go in the first round this year. My goal is just to go in there and try and win a spot and work my hardest.”
Foote and the Rockets leave Wednesday morning for a six-game road trip through Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Canada begins the World Juniors on Dec. 26 against the U.S. in the Czech Republic.
Basran Rules — Again
Kelowna Rockets goalie Roman Basran is making a habit of this.
For a second consecutive week, the WHL named Basran its Goaltender of the Week. Basran did his best Monday to brush off the accolade.
“I, honestly, don’t really care about it,” he said, perhaps smiling just a bit. “Obviously nice to get the award, get credit for our work, but it’s not that big of a deal at the end of the day. We still have games to win.”
Basran, 18, is the only goalie to win back-to-back awards this season, although Vancouver Giants David Tendeck (Nov. 11-17) and Trent Miner (Nov. 4-10) were both recent winners.
Basran was 1-0-1 last week, earning his first shutout in a 1-0 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings a week ago. On Saturday, he backstopped Kelowna to a 3-2 win over the Prince George Cougars.
“My defence has been helping me out a lot, and our forwards are coming back,” the Vancouver-born netminder said. “It’s been a lot easier for me to just play my game, play simple.”
On the season, Basran is 11-5-3 with a 2.49 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
Kelowna GM Bruce Hamilton said he’s been speaking with teams about adding a defenceman, but isn’t having any luck.
“It’s been a struggle right now to get anything done,” he said. “We’re looking around hard.”
Anyone with an extra defenceman to shop is demanding a high price, Hamilton said, or “keeping their cards close to their chest.”
Hosting the Memorial Cup puts you at a disadvantage, no doubt. It’s unlikely anyone is going to do the Rockets any favours.
The Rockets traded defenceman Cayde Augustine to the Moose Jaw Warriors on Monday for a conditional sixth-round draft choice in the 2023.
Kelowna listed the six-two, 205-pound rearguard in 2017.
He played in 55 career games for the Rockets, recording two goals and six assists. The 18-year-old Airdrie, Alta., product suited up in six games this season, collecting two assists.
Given Kelowna’s recent injuries and its current roster, it wasn’t a move the Rockets were expecting to make. However, Augustine asked for the move, Hamilton said.
“He thought he should be playing more,” the GM said.
Flurry of Furry
After yet another significant injury to the Rockets, Nolan Foote will need plenty more games like Saturday.
Foote scored twice, including the winner early in the third period, as the Rockets defeated the Prince George Cougars 3-2 on Saturday night at Prospera Place.
The win came in Kelowna’s first game since learning Liam Kindree would be sidelined with a shoulder injury up to six weeks, meaning he’ll be gone for Kelowna’s six-game swing through Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Foote said everyone needs to elevate their game to make up for the veteran’s absence.
“Right before this road trip, it’s not good, but guys, they played their roles tonight and stepped up huge,” he said. “That’s got to continue into this road trip because it’s going to be a hard swing. We’re going to need everyone.”
Sean Comrie also scored while Kaedan Korczak and Jadon Joseph had two assists each. Basran made 19 saves. Josh Maser and Connor Bowie scored for Prince George. Taylor Gauthier faced 26 shots in the P.G. net.
It was Teddy Bear Toss night, and the team collected five pickups worth of stuffed animals tossed to the ice for KGH kids after the team’s first goal.
Kelowna has won five of six, with the loss coming in a shootout.
They’re not home again until Dec. 18 to play the Vancouver Giants.