Bendera Takes Off For Kelowna

By Aaron Vickers

Bendera Takes Off For Kelowna

Late yesterday afternoon Shane Bendera had his car packed, but it wasn’t to go join his new Rocket teammates for their game in Moose Jaw against the Warriors. In fact, Bendera wasn’t even aware that he was a member of the Kelowna Rockets at the time. Bendera had his car packed so he could go home for the holidays.

“I was getting ready to go home for Christmas. I had the car all packed and ready to go. Then (Rebel Coach Brent) Sutter calls me into his office told me I got traded to Kelowna,” said Bendera. “…They wanted me in Moose Jaw (right away). So I had to catch a quick flight. I didn’t have time to pack or say any goodbyes.”

The Rockets aquired Bendera in an attempt to stabilize their goaltending, which has struggled at the best of times this season. As a team, the Rockets are 14-18-2, but are almost a lock for a playoff spot after acquiring arguably the best goalie in the WHL. The acquisition of Bendera comes not a moment too soon for Rockets General Manager Bruce Hamilton. His Rockets have not been consistent in net, and as a team have a 3.36 GAA with an .879 SV%. Bendera enters the organization sporting an 11-6-3 record with a 2.28 GAA and .918 SV%.

But a team cannot aquire a goaltender of the caliber of Shane Bendera without losing a few keys to success as well. Lost by the Rockets was former starting goalie, and the man Bendera replaces, Jason Stone. Stone, in 27 games, had posted a respectable 12-9-2 record with a 2.99 GAA and .890 SV%. However, Stone was not the key to the deal. The Rockets also lost Carsen Germyn, fan favorite and arguably their top forward this season behind Chuck Kobasew. In only 23 games, Germyn had put up 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points. A powerplay specialist, Germyn had 8 of his 10 goals with the man advantage. Germyn, who stands 6 foot 5, had remained in Kelowna during the Rockets 5 game road trip to recover from a knee sprain.

The trade appeared to catch all players off guard. Stone, who won player of the week honors, as well as player of the month honors in November was taken aback by the news.

“I think the team was going good, we had a really great (November) and I just wasn’t expecting it,” Stone explained to the Canadian Press, “I thought I was playing good. I don’t know…it just surprised me.”

General Manager of the Kelowna Rockets Bruce Hamilton said it best when putting the trade into perspective for his team.

“This is a trade that both teams really benefited from,” said Hamilton. “Which is nice to see that happen, because if you’re kind of putting it to somebody all the time, it’ll catch up to you. In this case, we got a Cadillac and we gave up a Cadillac in Carsen Germyn. And we gave up a guy in goal who’s leading the league in shutouts.”

Sutter, who also doubles as the General Manager for the Red Deer Squad, echoed the sentiments of Hamilton.

“With Carsen, we now have a guy who we can automatically put into our top three forwards,” said Sutter when asked to comment on Germyn. “He’s gritty, is a player with lots of bite and is someone who can put up a lot of numbers for us. I asked my players when we played against Kelowna, who did they hate playing against the most. And they all said Carsen. With the players saying that, I knew right there I wanted him on the team.”

It is now Bendera’s job to guide the Rockets into the playoffs, and deeper than a disappointing last season. The Rockets finished atop the West Conference last season, but made a quick exit in the first round of the playoffs. It will be Bendera’s turn to try to duplicate the magic he performed when the Rebels won the Memorial Cup last season.

Credit all quotes to Canadian Press