The Okanagan Rockets open the 37th annual Calgary Mac’s Midget Tournament today at the Max Bell Centre against the Alberta leading Calgary Buffaloes.
The Rockets will also face California’s Ontario Avalanche, the Regina Pat Canadians and the Grande Prairie Storm in pool play.
Vernon d-man Nick Higgs, who has 1-5-6 this Major Midget season, and local forward Kaden Black, who has 5-9-14, play with the Rockets. Okanagan is second in the 11-team B.C. league at 17-6-1.
“There aren’t any nights off at the Mac’s” said Rocket GM David Michaud, who is making his fifth straight appearance in Calgary. “The pools are always challenging and this year once again is no exception. I called us the group of death last year with some really tough teams, and this year it isn’t a whole lot better.”
The Rockets have only qualified for the playoffs once in their eight consecutive tournament appearances, that coming in last year’s run that took them to the semifinals before finally being knocked off by the eventual champions from Finland.
With just one returnee of that squad, Michaud said he will lean heavily on captain Mark Krabben to help the players understand the magnitude of the event.
“Krabben will play a huge role in making sure the players know what sort of challenge lies ahead of them. It’s an exciting event, but it can get away from you quickly if you aren’t ready to go.”
The Rockets battle the Avs Saturday (11:45 a.m.) and take on Regina Monday night, both at Father David Bauer Arena, and go up against Grande Prairie Tuesday afternoon at Flames Community Arena (Blue).