An exciting opening night at Prospera Place on Thursday as the Kelowna Rockets played host to the Vancouver Giants. The Western Conference and WHL Championship banners were raised to the roof in Kelowna, a reminder of the organization's successful playoff run last season.
This season, both the Rockets and Giants begin play with plenty of questions as each team has graduated some high end talent. In Vancouver, almost the entire blueline corps is being rebuilt as Nick Ross, Jon Blum, Brent Regner and Craig Schira are gone. Goaltender Tyson Sexsmith is gone, destined for a job in professional hockey within the San Jose Sharks system. Evander Kane's return from the Atlanta Thrashers remains an uncertainty.
I watched the Giants/Rockets tilt while assisting Morley Scott with the AM650 radio broadcast into the lower mainland. Scott, the Giants new Director of Broadcast and Media Relations, is a knowledgable, experienced and enthusiastic play-by-play man with extensive NHL experience. And get used to this great call Giants fans..."Dance Like Nobody's Watchin'"...you'll hear it a few times this season from Morley!
Prior to the game, I spoke with head coach Don Hay about the upcoming season. Not only are the Giants moving ahead with some new faces in the lineup, the team will not play a home game between January 7 and March 12 due to the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. (There is some slight background noise for about ten seconds during this audio clip...such is life in an empty building prior to game time.)