Nathan Gossoo (Center) and Lian Gayfer (Right, wearing “A”) were both selected in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft. (Photo - Nathan Gossoo)

Nathan Gossoo (Center) and Lian Gayfer (Right, wearing “A”) were both selected in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft. (Photo - Nathan Gossoo)

Four Okanagan Rockets selected in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft

Nathan Gossoo, Lian Gayfter, Dante Nunes and Luke Schraeder were selected

For most young hockey players growing up in the Okanagan, the dream of one day playing in the Western Hockey League (WHL) extends only as far as the nets in their street hockey games, but for a select few, that dream will one day become a reality.

On April 22, four Bantam AAA Okanagan Rockets were selected in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft.

Nathan Gossoo was one of them. He led the Rockets in points, tallying 25 goals and 18 assists in 30 games. And while the 15-year-old West Kelowna native doesn’t lack confidence, he was humbled when he had his name called by the Prince Albert Raiders with the 169th pick.

“I had a thought that I’d be drafted and some people told me that I would, but it wasn’t 100 per cent” said Gosso.

“Seeing my name selected was super exciting, not knowing for sure that it was going to happen.”

READ MORE: Kelowna Rockets 2020 WHL Draft Recap

While being drafted is the first step to becoming a WHL player, Gossoo recognizes the challenge of cracking a talented Prince Albert roster that most recently competed for the Memorial Cup in 2019. But Gossoo is no stranger to overcoming perseverance. Just last year, he was cut from the South Zone Knights.

“Lasy year I was cut from the zone team mostly because I couldn’t play physical enough,” said Gossoo.

“I was really weak, but this year in the offseason I got my strength up so this year I could come into tryouts and just be physical and keep the puck. My training helped me a lot this year.”

Gossoo plays a big-fast-mean game, often taking the puck to the net to create scoring chances. He also prides himself on his defensive game, digging pucks out of corners to help his defenceman transition up ice.

His teammates aren’t too shabby either. Okanagan Rockets forward Lian Gayfer went toe-to-toe in team scoring with Gossoo all year. Gayfer would win the league goal title, edging out Gossoo with 27 tallies, while Gossoo finished with the most points.

Gayfer, from Kamloops, B.C., was also selected in the Bantam draft, taken 149th overall by the Medicine Hat Tigers.

“(Gayfer) never takes a shift off,” said Gossoo.

“He goes full-speed 100 per cent of the time. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with him. He can score from anywhere and in the defensive zone, he can skate the puck out himself. He’s a fast player who likes to play physical.”

READ MORE: Kelowna Rockets name Terry McFaul head scout

Two Rockets defenceman were also selected. West Kelowna’s Dante Nunes was taken 154th overall by the Portland Winterhawks, while Kelowna’s Luke Schraeder was taken 175th overall by the Everett Silvertips.

“Schraeder is a defensive defenceman, but when he gets his chances he’ll make something out of it,” said Gossoo.

“He’s physical, not super big but he can play big. On the other hand, Nunes is a real offensive defenceman. He can rush the puck, he shoots and scores a lot. When he gets a chance to jump up in the rush lookout.”

The Okanagan Rockets were placed 1st in the BCBHL with a record of 28-1-0-1 before the season came to an abrupt end due to COVID-19. Gossoo attributes much of the team’s success to coaching, stating head coach Jason Beckett was great for team structure as well as player development.

“The coaches were a huge help,” said Gossoo.

“We were always learning new systems and new stuff. There aren’t many teams to play against, so if a team was starting to figure out our game plan we would change it so they couldn’t figure us out.”

The four draftees will look to continue their development with the Major Midget Rockets next season and capture a championship they lost out on this season.


Daniel Taylor
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at daniel.taylor@kelownacapnews.com
Follow me on Twitter

BC Minor Hockey

Just Posted

Dawn Low is the first female CAO for the City of Revelstoke. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review file)
Armstrong welcomes new CAO

Dawn Low previously served as CAO in Revelstoke since 2019

18-year-old skier Logan Leach follows his guide, Julien Petit, down an alpine track. The Lumby athlete who is visually impaired has been named to Alpine Canada’s Ski Team ahead of the 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing. (Contributed)
Lumby’s Logan Leach named to national ski team

The 18-year-old visually impaired athlete officially joins Canada’s Para-Alpine roster ahead of Beijing 2022

Sovereign Lake Nordic Club is the first ski area in Canada to signify its commitment to ending working poverty, by paying all its staff and contracted workers a living wage. (Contributed)
Vernon ski area first in Canada to pay living wage

Sovereign Lake Nordic Club invests in staff and contracted workers

Fair-goers take a ride at the 120th annual Armstrong Interior Provincial Exhibition and Stampede Aug. 28-Sept. 1, 2019. (Katherine Peters - Morning Star)
Armstrong’s IPE not eligible for COVID-19 grant designed for major attractions

Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo criticized the rigidity of the provincial program’s criteria

A young child has been taken to hospital after being struck by a vehicle on 30th Avenue in Vernon Friday, June 11, 2021. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Child struck by vehicle in downtown Vernon

The young child has been taken to hospital with unknown injuries following the incident on main street

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

Most Read