Terry McFaul’s thoughts on Rockets 2022-23 Training Camp
For the first time since 2019, the Kelowna Rockets ran a complete training camp, including a rookie camp.
Due to Covid-19, only roster players playing in the Hub season reported directly to their teams in March 2021. Only Rockets drafted and roster players reported to last year’s camp in September 2021.
It’s the third camp since long-time Rockets scout and current Director of Player Personnel Terry McFaul took over the position. kelownarockets.com caught up with McFaul to chat about camp and Rockets prospects.
The Rockets had their last two groups of drafted kids competing in rookie camp, in addition to all of the 2007-born undrafted players that were invited. McFaul said that there was a handful of reasons to be excited throughout the week.
“We were so excited to have the young guys here this year,” said McFaul. “The 2006’s hadn’t been to a camp before, so that’s why we mixed them in with the 2007’s for the rookie camp this year. All of our American drafted kids showed up to camp, we’re super excited about that because that just never happens. Overall the level of play during rookie camp was good. Usually, you have a few kids who are behind, but we found that it was very competitive.”
Plenty of smiles as we get to know the new guys on day one at rookie camp. pic.twitter.com/HM42XtMVSn
— Kelowna Rockets (@Kelowna_Rockets) September 2, 2022
As for why the Rockets host a rookie camp, McFaul says that players develop at different speeds and you might catch someone who made massive strides over the summer. With eight other Rockets scouts in attendance at camp, the brass kept a watchful eye on the group.
“We always have to keep an eye on them, you never know when all of a sudden they’re going to take off. They’ve all got potential, otherwise they wouldn’t be here, they would be at someone else’s camp. You’ve always gotta track them and see where they’re at, they’ll be a good player, then all of a sudden they might hit a growth spurt and then everything starts coming together for them. You have to be aware and know where those guys are at.”
Speaking of development and projection, McFaul pulled the curtain back a bit on the Rockets 9th-round pick in the 2022 WHL Prospects Draft. Defenceman Jake DeMone came to camp clocking in as the shortest player, standing at 5’7, 131-pounds. But Jake is the son of former Portland Winterhawk and Ottawa Senator draft pick James DeMone who’s 6’6 tall.
“The hardest thing in scouting is that we see them and draft them at 14, but you’re trying to project what they’ll look like t 17. We have a young guy in camp that we took out of Lethbridge, Jake DeMone, he’s a small guy now at 5’7. But his dad is 6’6 and his mom is 6’1, so you’re thinking Jake’s going to be a big guy, you’re projecting that at 17 he’ll be over six feet tall.”
He said if you want to see a prime example of that projection in action, just take a look at Rockets forward Marcus Pacheco.
“Marcus has all kinds of skill and is a phenomenal skater. All he needed was strength and weight, the strength will come with the weight. We’re starting to see that with him, he’s come back a little bit heavier and looks very comfortable. He was 5’9, 144-pounds when we drafted him and now he’s at least 6’0, 180-pounds. I think it’s going to be a breakout year for him.”
A group that McFaul was excited to see attend camp was the Rockets four picks from the 2021 and 2022 US Priority Draft’s. Kelowna took Arizona forwards Hayden Hastings 15th overall and Jacob Solano 30th overall in 2021 and Texas defencemen Jackson Gillespie and Ryder McLeod. The quartet’s play throughout the last few days left McFaul excited for their futures.
“It’s huge, talking with the kids and the parents they were all super excited to come. I talked to their parents two to three times throughout the summer and into the camp, I think a lot of it has to do with communicating with them and staying in touch with them. I’m really impressed with their play this week. Just to have them come here does a lot for our program, we were so excited to see them and we can’t wait to have them come back next year.”
On Saturday the drafted players all moved into the main camp along with a few invited players.
“Giving the ’06 and ’07 guys that we drafted a day and a half in the main camp gives them a chance to see what it takes and an idea of what it’s like. They’ve mixed in with the veterans very well, they’re not afraid and they’re right in the mix. If they’re a little bit behind, the young guys will push themselves to get up to their level.”
Kelowna will open the 2023 preseason on the road against the Kamloops Blazers at the Sandman Centre this Friday on September 9, the Rockets will then host the Blazers the next night on September 10.
Tickets for the Rockets three preseason games and the regular season home opener are now on sale through Select Your Tickets. Tickets can be purchased online through www.selectyourtickets.com, at the Prospera Place box office, or by phone at 250-762-5050.
The Rockets annual season ticket holder bbq will also take place this Saturday. Bring the family and join the Rockets outside of gate One at Prospera Place on Saturday, September 10, 2022 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.