The list of players who spent time in the Western Hockey League with the Kelowna Rockets before finally reaching the NHL is pretty impressive.
Among the standouts are Duncan Keith, Shea Weber, Tyler Myers, Luke Schenn and Jamie Benn. Each player actually has his own mural on the wall across from the locker rooms within Kelowna's home rink, Prospera Place.
"I think it's really neat when we have training camp and all the young guys are here and they see those guys [on the walls on ice level]," Kelowna owner/GM Bruce Hamilton told NHL.com. "And when the visiting teams come in, they walk by them and see who's played here too. And those guys that are on the wall, they come by and take a look."
Sissons sizzles off the ice
Not only is forward Colton Sissons of the Kelowna Rockets quite the hockey player, but he has a passion for the culinary arts.
"I'm a pretty big chicken and steak kind of guy," Sissons told NHL.com. "I stick with proteins. I can cook a pretty mean steak, if I say so myself.
"I barbecue quite a bit when I'm at home [in North Vancouver]. I haven't done a lot of cooking this year to be honest, but I'm always watching the Food Network, and that's always on the TV so that gives me ideas."
Though Sissons wouldn't go as far as to say his dishes top his mom's, he did say cooking is something he enjoys as a hobby.
"For as long as I can remember, I've always been watching cooking shows and getting pretty into it," he said. "A bunch of my buddies back home are into it too, so we're always watching the Food Network and thinking up some new dishes to cook up."
-- Mike G. Morreale
Perhaps there will come a day when the team's top 2012 draft-eligible prospect, center Colton Sissons, is among that group.
The 6-foot-1, 187-pound native of North Vancouver, B.C., is NHL Central Scouting's No. 14-ranked skater in North America heading into the 2012 NHL Draft, to be held June 22-23 in Pittsburgh.
Sissons finished second on the team with 26 goals, including a team-leading 13 power-play markers, in 58 games as the Rockets finished in sixth place in the Western Conference of the WHL.
"I definitely look up to a guy like Ryan Kesler and a Mike Richards too," Sissons told NHL.com. "Those type of guys are reliable in their own zone and put up numbers in the offensive zone. They're always working and they're always moving their feet, so those two are definitely guys I look up to and want to be like one day in the NHL."
Sissons was well on his way to setting a career-high for points this season before being sidelined with a concussion he sustained in the team's 3-2 loss to the Kamloops Blazers on Feb. 11. The Kelowna captain, who admitted to feeling great when NHL.com caught up to him at the Scouting Combine in May, did play four games in the playoffs, notching one goal and two points.
"I haven't had any symptoms, even after coming back and riding the bike after my concussion," Sissons told NHL.com. "I'm feeling fine and haven't had a symptom in months now, so I'm confident."
Sissons was a member of Team WHL at the 2011 Subway Super Series and was named an assistant captain. He also participated in the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects game, captaining Team Orr to a win over Team Cherry.
Still, he admits dealing with the head injury was scary.
"You never want to mess around with your brain or your head; it's pretty important to say the least," he said. "It's definitely nerve-racking when, after a couple of weeks, you're not feeling better. But I had all the confidence that I would get back from that and be back playing before the playoffs."
After spending most of the 2010-11 campaign as a third-line player, Sissons was counted on more offensively this year. Earlier this season, in fact, he was considered to be one of the more well-rounded point-producers starring in the WHL. His two-way game is what attracts many scouts.
"He has size and he plays his position well," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald told NHL.com.
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Sissons was asked how he viewed his role as Rockets captain this season.
"It's a big responsibility for sure, and just knowing that respect from your coaches and also your teammates is there is a pretty special feeling," he said. "I felt I adjusted to it pretty well and I had fun with it."
As the youngest forward on the Vancouver Northwest Giants in 2008-09, Sissons finished with 54 points, fifth overall in the league, helping the team win the BC Major Midget League Championships. His teammate on that club was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 overall selection by the Edmonton Oilers at the 2011 NHL Draft.
"That was my takeoff year into junior hockey," Sissons said. "We were linemates pretty much that whole year, and he assisted on probably all 30 of my 30 goals. It was definitely pretty special to see him do as well as he did as a rookie. It's definitely a good sign for young guys like myself coming up in the ranks as well."
Sissons said he could adjust to any position on the ice. He is as determined to get the puck out of his defensive zone as he is producing offensive opportunities.
"I could pretty much play any position … wing or center," he said. "I prefer center, no doubt about that, but I've been adjusting to wing a lot in my career."
Sissons has the potential to become the highest drafted Kelowna forward. Scott Parker, the only Rockets forward drafted in the first round, was selected No. 20 by the Colorado Avalanche in 1998.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale