The Kelowna Rockets bowed out of the WHL playoffs last week, surprisingly swept by the Tri-City Americans in the first round.
However, four of the Rockets aren’t done yet — set to extend their season in the American Hockey League, with captain Cal Foote joining the Syracuse Crunch, leading scorer Kole Lind destined for the Utica Comets, forward Dillon Dube reporting to the Stockton Heat, and over-ager Carsen Twarynski also expected to join the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
All four are projected to stick in the pro ranks this fall rather than returning to the Rockets for next season.
Foote, 19, a 6-foot-4 defenceman, was a first-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning, 14th overall in 2017, and signed his three-year, entry-level contract over the weekend. Named the Rockets’ MVP this season, Foote has since headed to Syracuse where he could debut for the Crunch as early as Friday. That team has six games remaining in the regular season through April 14, and has already clinched an AHL playoff berth.
Lind, 19, has led Kelowna in scoring in each of the past two seasons and was selected in the second round (33rd overall) in 2017 by the Vancouver Canucks.
Lind signed with the Canucks on March 1, and then agreed to an amateur tryout contract with their AHL affiliate in Utica, N.Y., on Monday. The Comets have also clinched a playoff spot, with six games left in their regular season — starting Thursday in Toronto against the Marlies as part of a home-and-home set that returns to Utica on Friday.
Dube, also 19, was a second-round pick (56th overall) by the Calgary Flames in 2016, and signed his entry-level contract last March before making his pro debut for Stockton in the 2017 AHL playoffs. He only got into one game as the Heat were ousted in the first round of the post-season. He’s back there now on an amateur tryout contract, with Stockton battling for the final berth in the Pacific Division. Four teams will advance and the Heat are in fifth with sixth games to go. They have a big game this Thursday, visiting the fourth-place Texas Stars in their final head-to-head meeting.
Twarynski, 20, was selected in the third round (82nd overall) in 2016 by the Philadelphia Flyers, who signed him to an entry-level contract on March 11.
As of Monday evening, the Flyers had yet to announce Twarynski’s assignment to Lehigh Valley, so it’s unlikely he’ll be in the Phantoms’ lineup for a two-game road set tonight and Wednesday against the Charlotte, N.C., Checkers. He could join that team on the weekend for games in Hartford, Conn., and Providence, R.I. The Phantoms will be playoff bound, having clinched a berth and sitting in top spot in the Atlantic Division.
Meanwhile, back in the WHL and the B.C. Division, the Victoria Royals prevailed 4-3 in overtime on Monday to force a Game 7 against the Vancouver Giants tonight.