Blazers at Rockets

Kelowna Rockets forward Ethan Ernst battles with Kamloops Blazers defenceman Luke Zazula at CN Centre in Kamloops on Monday.

Ethan Ernst will get a chance at a breakout season south of the border.

The Kelowna Rockets traded the 19-year-old forward to the Tri-City Americans on Friday for a seventh-round selection in the 2022 WHL draft. 

“We wish Ethan all the best in Tri-Cities,” said Rockets president and general manager Bruce Hamilton. “I believe he will flourish with a fresh start. We never saw the real Ethan Ernst due to his injuries, so it is my hope that he does well.”

Ernst, from Weyburn, Sask., has appeared in 123 games for Kelowna over the last four seasons, collecting 25 points (7G, 18A) and 23 penalty minutes.

He played just two of 16 games last season, the hub season, and has been held pointless in just one game so far this campaign.

Ernst was originally selected by the Rockets in the third round, 64th overall, of the 2017 WHL draft.

He showed flashes of a bright future in 2019-20 alongside Jake Poole and Trevor Wong. The trio was pressed into a larger role as more veteran Rockets went down to injury; however, Kelowna has opted for new faces and has also traded Wong this season.

The Rockets (2-1) are in Vancouver tonight to face the Giants (2-1). They’ll return to Vancouver Oct. 29 before welcoming the Victoria Royals to Prospera Place on Oct. 30.

After opening the season with a loss, the Rockets have now strung together a pair of wins. Kelowna downed the B.C. Division-leading Kamloops Blazers 4-2 last Friday in front of a sold-out crowd of 3,400 at Prospera Place. Goaltender Colby Knight made 29 saves in his debut, picking up his first win of the season. Chicago Blackhawks prospect Colton Dach picked up first-star honours after posting a three-point (2G, 1A) night, including the game-winning goal.

Vancouver was to take on the Blazers, Friday night at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, but a score wasn’t available at press time.

Following tonight’s matchup, the Rockets and Giants will be off until next Friday night, where they’ll take each other on again at the Langley Events Centre.

Rockets to Watch

Minnesota Wild prospect Pavel Novak is on a three-game multi-point scoring streak. The Czech Republic product leads the Rockets in scoring with six points (2G, 4A) through three games.

Forwards Max Graham and Gabriel Szturc, both first time NHL Draft eligible candidates, earned C ratings on NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary players to watch list released Tuesday. Those with C ratings are projected to be fourth-, fifth- or sixth-round selections for the 2022 NHL draft. Through three regular-season games this season, Graham has posted two goals and an assist, while Szturc has posted a pair of assists.

Giants to watch

F Justin Lies earned a C rating from NHL Central Scouting. The Flin Flon, Man., product has a goal and two assists over three games this season.

Florida Panthers prospect Justin Sourdif leads the Giants in points with five (2G, 3A) through three games. He was named the 18th captain in Giants history Oct. 1.