Hiroki and Kanjyu Gojsic: Brothers United
When the Rockets selected forward Kanjyu Gojsic in the third round (No. 48) of the 2023 WHL Prospects Draft back on May 11th, there was no way the Gojsic family could envision that his older brother Hiroki would have the chance to don the Rockets sweater alongside him.
But two and a half weeks later, that was exactly the case after the Rockets traded for Hiroki’s WHL playing rights from the Victoria Royals and signed the highly touted prospect.
“It would be awesome to play with Kanjyu,” said Hiroki in a telephone interview. “I didn’t have the chance to play with him much when I was younger, so I’m excited for that in Kelowna.”
Hiroki was selected by the Victoria Royals with the first pick in the second round (No. 23) two years earlier at the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft.
During his 16-year-old campaign this past season he played with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees, posting 21 points (10G, 11A) and 22 penalty minutes through 36 games as a 16-year-old rookie. He added another goal in two playoff games with the Vees.
Meanwhile, Kanjyu, the younger of the two brothers, was busy gearing up for his WHL draft year playing with the St. George’s School U15 Prep of the CSSHL.
After posting 46 points (19G, 27A) over 26 games, which left him third in team scoring, he was hopeful that he would follow in his brother’s footsteps of being selected in the second round or better during the WHL Prospects Draft. Hopeful that the Rockets would be the team to pick him he followed along intently.
“I was on my lunch break following and had kind of been waiting a while,” said Kanjyu. “I was starting to wonder when I was going to be picked. I thought Kelowna might take me in the second round, but that didn’t happen. Then the third round came around and they selected me, I was just really relieved at that point.”
That first Rocket pick in the second round ended up being used to select a familiar face, his linemate at St. George’s, Eli Barrett.
On May 30 Kanjyu signed a WHL Scholarship and Development Agreement with the Rockets, quicker than some of the other players picked ahead of him in the first and second rounds.
“Kelowna had a lot of faith in me, they’re a great organization and I really want to be playing up there with them as soon as I can. I wanted to show them my faith as well, so I signed right away.”
A day later it was announced that the Rockets had acquired Hiroki’s WHL playing rights from the Victoria Royals and was also going to sign a WHL Scholarship and Development Agreement.
“At first I was kind of unsure and then I talked with my family and my agent,” said Hiroki about making the choice to leave for the WHL. “Now I’m just really excited to get this going. We’re going to have a good team going into the future and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Kelowna has made a handful of moves throughout the off-season, immediate help up front will come from the additions of Hiroki and Tij Iginla, who was picked ninth overall by Seattle in the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft.
Hiroki will bring added size to the Rockets top six, standing at 6’3″, the 17-year-old weighed in at 187 pounds. When watching his ten goals with Penticton this season, he displayed an ability to have a net-front presence that didn’t play a perimeter game.
“I’m a power forward that likes to play fast, hit people and likes to score goals. I know that scoring goals didn’t happen as much this past year, but I didn’t feel like I didn’t get the opportunity to do so. I had limited minutes, so I just tried to do the best that I could with what I had every day, that was kind of my mindset on it.”
He’ll have the chance to skate alongside Andrew Cristall, who also played at St. George’s prior to being drafted by the Rockets. While the two have never played together, the elder Gojsic brother said he’s excited to have the chance to play with the Washinton Capital’s second-round pick.
“The chance to play with Andrew would be awesome, he’s a great player I think everyone knows that. What I plan to bring to the Rockets is to play my game, which is a hard, strong, fast-paced game.”
Throughout the summer both Gojsic brothers have been busy preparing for their first Rockets camp, which they’ll attend together next week.
Hiroki will join the Rockets squad this season, but younger brother Kanjyu won’t be eligible for full-time until next year. The 15-year-old will be permitted to appear in five regular season games as an affiliate for Kelowna until his team’s season has come to an end.
The two having the chance to be in the Rockets lineup together is a dream come true, it’s something that the Gojsic brothers could never have envisioned as a possibility months ago.
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