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Gm Bruce Hamilton congratulates Dillon Dube and Cal FGoote on their World Junior Championship

Churning out NHL draft picks, world champions, Olympians and a record book to rival most in junior hockey, the Kelowna Rockets have found a winning formula under the tutelage of owner and general manager Bruce Hamilton. 

Year after year, Hamilton fields a winning roster, with many players graduating to the National Hockey League (NHL). Madison Bowey (2010-2015) played his first NHL game in October with the Washington Capitals and Nick Merkley (2012- 2017) played as an Arizona Coyote in his first game in December. 

First-round draft pick Josh Morrissey (2014- 2015) is playing with the Winnipeg Jets, Leon Draisaitl (2015) with the Edmonton Oilers and Colton Sissons (2010-2013) with the Nashville Predators.

With annual revenue at $4.7 million, the Kelowna Rockets has one of the higher-end budgets in the Canadian Hockey League.

And then there are the Olympians: a 2014 gold medal for Jamie Benn (2007-2009), Duncan Keith (2002-2003) and Shea Weber (2001-2005). Keith and Weber were also golden boys in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Benn plays with the Dallas Stars, Weber with the Montreal Canadiens, and Keith the Chicago Blackhawks (and a Stanley Cup champion.)

Defence Josh Gorges, who plays with the Buffalo Sabres, spent four seasons with the Rockets from 2000 to 2004,  and lead them to a Memorial Cup Championship in 2004 as their captain. Gorges was also a member of Team Canada at the 2004 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, where he won a silver medal.

This season, Rockets Dillon Dube was named captain to Team Canada, and with teammate Cal Foote, captured the world junior title with a 3-1 victory over Sweden.

It all adds up to excitement on the ice and dollars in the local coffers. When Hamilton moved the Tacoma Rockets to Kelowna in 1995, no one foresaw the over $31 million the hockey team contributes to the economy of the Central Okanagan each year.

With annual revenue at $4.7 million, the Kelowna Rockets has one of the higher-end budgets in the Canadian Hockey League. Those funds fuel the local economy with staff salaries and wages, advertising done by the team, player pocket money and expenses and billet expenses.

The team is also in the black. In a league where most junior teams operate at a loss, the Rockets post an annual profit of $185,000. 

Rockets alumni not only generate excitement among the fan base, but a large number live or maintain summer homes here. That alone generates $7 million per year for the local economy. 

The economic impact of the successful franchise trickles to the downtown merchants, as out-of-towners stay at hotels and fans catch a quick bite before the game. When the dollars are added up, nearly $15 million flows into local stores, restaurants and hotels as a result of regular season activities. And when the team makes the playoffs, another $5 million is generated for the local economy.

So if you’re heading to the next playoff game, be sure to stop for a bite before heading to the rink. Maybe try the Josh Gorges burger at the hockey pub, Sturgeon Hall. 

and-naude

Winter economics: when the weather turns cold, business stays hot

In the Okanagan, we make hay when the sun shines and when the snow falls. The Valley is well known as a four-season playground; perhaps less known, it’s also a four-season economy. Key industries fire on all four cylinders throughout spring, summer, fall and winter. 

Winter economics: rockets fuel local economy

Churning out NHL draft picks, world champions, Olympians and a record book to rival most in junior hockey, the Kelowna Rockets have found a winning formula under the tutelage of owner and general manager Bruce Hamilton. 

Bring your heritage to work

Rehabilitation assistant Garth Wale identifies as a husband, a dad, a brother, a 31-year employee of Interior Health; and a proud member of the Gitxsan First Nation.

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