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Rocket man in Kelowna

by Shane McColgan
Hi everyone. My name is Shane McColgan and I play for the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League. I started playing when I was 2 1/2 years-old on the roller rinks in California because there aren't many ice rinks there. The first ice rink opened up when I was 6 in El Segundo (Calif.) where the Kings and Lakers practice. It's a nice facility and it was great to go there.
Every kid has a dream of playing in the NHL and getting drafted, but not until I was a about 12 did I feel I could make a living playing hockey. That's when I started producing and helping my bantam team win while being one of the top three guys on the team. It was around that same time when my coach at the time, Sandy Gasseau, moved me to forward from defense. If he didn't switch me, I'd probably be playing defense right now so I'm grateful he had the foresight to do that -- it's a move I don't regret.
My coach for the LA Junior Kings, Jack Bowkus, also helped me a lot along the way.
A lot of people ask me about hockey in California and how popular it's becoming. When Wayne Gretzky got traded to the Kings, it was huge for California hockey. You'll see some kids who will come out of there as top notch kids born in 1995 and '96. I'm hearing about some good ones waiting in the wings already … I don't know them well but have heard good things. We're competing with Canada and are proving to be pretty good at hockey too. Some people just think we're all surfing and chillin', going on the beach and things like that, but hockey in California has grown for sure.
My first season in Kelowna was great experience. Kelowna is a top-notch organization that treats you like a professional, and they expect you to be professional on and off the ice and that's what has really helped me. The coaching staff has given me a chance to play as a really young guy as a 16 year old. Most players wouldn't get the chance to play at that age but they believed in me and I believed in them.
I had a rough start to this season as I had to have my tonsils removed and missed a few games. I was out three weeks with an abscess in the right tonsil and they had to get them out right away so I flew back to Manhattan Beach to have the procedure taken care of. Everything went as planned and I'm just trying to get my step back now and getting back into game shape.
It was kind of hard coming back because we played three games in three nights and two were on the road and those were my first three games back so it was pretty tough. But there was a break between games after that and I think I'll be fine the rest of the way.
I had a great experience at the Research, Development and Orientation Camp over the summer. Going up there with all the top prospects who could potentially go in the first round, seeing Brendan Shanahan and Commissioner Gary Bettman, was all very cool. Just getting a taste of the NHL like that was great experience.
Most of my goals are really team-oriented. I want to win a championship in Kelowna and have a successful season. My individual goals are just to produce offensively and be a good defensive player as well. I'll stick up for my teammates whenever I can; I don't shy away from the physical side of the game.

I'm pretty excited about the draft. There's always a little pressure and I think about it in the back of my mind but obviously I did something that worked last year and I'm not going to change it up. I have a year of experience under my belt and I think that'll really help me this season.
We got off to a pretty slow start but I'm confident we'll get the points back. I'm confident we'll have a good season. I appreciate you reading my first blog and check back next month with a new update.

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