Rockets make trade at deadline ahead of weekend games

Kelowna acquires a Vancouver Giants defenceman before match up with Prince George

The Kelowna Rockets have made another change to their defense. With the WHL’s trade deadline concluding Thursday afternoon, the Rockets pulled the trigger on acquiring defenceman Matt Barberis from the Vancouver Giants in exchange for forward Zane Zablocki.

With two big games this weekend in Prince George against the Cougars, the Rockets felt that their defence needed more changes. This comes just days after the Rockets traded away long time defenceman Braydyn Chizen to the Brandon Wheat Kings in exchange for defenceman Schael Higgson.

The changes to the Rockets’s roster may have been be caused by the Rockets 0-2-1 record since the beginning of 2019. Zablocki had four goals and eight assists during his 22 games, but Rockets management saw the improvements the team wanted to make with the trade.

“It wasn’t an easy decision to release Lane,” said general manager, Bruce Hamilton. “The way our hockey club is today, we had the chance to pick up a really skilled overage defenceman (Barberis) that will help us give our young guys more and more ice time.”

RELATED: Rockets suffer close loss to Everett

Barberis was originally drafted 20th overall by the Giants at the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft. The Surrey B.C. product 85 points in 168 WHL games. The veteran 5’11, 185-pound defenceman has been an assistant captain for the Giants over the last two seasons. Though Barberis won’t play against Prince George, this will open things up for the younger defensive skaters for the Rockets.

“I think it’s important that Korczak, Steffler, Thomson, and Augustine get to play more and with one of the three overage defencemen all the time. They’ll get a chance to improve their game and play in situations that they don’t get to all the time. Barberis is a skilled, great skating player. We’re excited to get him into our lineup,” said Hamilton.

The Rockets will return to home ice on Jan. 16 against the Moose Jaw Warriors.

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