Dieno back after good tryout with Wild
Two strong games in Traverse City, Mich., could translate into 72 potent games in the Western Hockey League this season.
At least that’s what Rhyse Dieno and the Red Deer Rebels are hoping for.
The Rebels 20-year-old winger suited up with the Minnesota Wild prospects in the Traverse City Tournament last week. As an undrafted and unsigned player, he was strictly there on a look-see, invitational basis and is convinced he did enough to perhaps warrant further interest from the Wild while suiting up for two of four games.
“There were definitely some adjustments on my part, the first couple of shifts especially,” Dieno said Thursday of his first foray into the professional game.
“We played the Detroit Red Wings prospects in my first game and their first two lines were definitely AHL- to NHL-calibre players, but I felt that I adjusted well and had a good game.
“I knew what I had to do in the second game and I played really well in that one.”
Dieno, who was held pointless and was assessed a hooking penalty in the two outings, got the indication he’s still on the Wild radar when the tournament concluded and he was reassigned to the Rebels.
“They just said that with the opportunity I received I played well and they wanted me to come back here and have a good year and hopefully they would see me again soon,” said Dieno. “All in all, it was a pretty good experience.”
Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter lifted the five-foot-10, 175-pound forward out of the SJHL in mid-November of last year and the Saskatoon native was an instant hit in Red Deer. He went on to post a team-high 59 points (27g,32a) in only 48 games and was an impressive plus-17.
Now he’s looking to scale newer heights.
“After realizing what I could do in the league last year, my expectations for this season are definitely a lot higher,” he said. “I know what it takes to succeed at this level . . . I know the level of play I have to be at to be successful, so I hope to have a really good year.
“Being in Red Deer for my 20-year-old season will benefit me a lot with all the ice time I’ll get. I’m happy to be back with the Rebels. We have a great coaching staff here. There’s not much more I can ask for.”
Dieno is slated to play on the Rebels’ top line during the 2013-14 Western Hockey League season, alongside Lukas Sutter — once he returns from the Winnipeg Jets camp — and centre Brooks Maxwell. Sutter will essentially replace graduated captain Turner Elson on the No. 1 unit.
“We played well together during camp and we should be a good line,” said Dieno. “A guy like Sutter brings grit like Turner did last year and he can definitely put the puck in the net when he gets a chance. Hopefully he’s back soon.”
The Rebels finished fourth in the Eastern Conference last season and reached the second round of the playoffs before being eliminated by the Calgary Hitmen. Dieno expects the club to venture further into the post-season next spring.
“It starts off with your goaltender and having (Patrik) Bartosak back is the key to everything,” he said of the reigning CHL netminder of the year.
“Bringing in a guy like Suttsy (Lukas Sutter) will help and our defence is a year older and a lot better. If we get Matty (Dumba) back (from the Minnesota Wild) he’ll add another big piece to the puzzle.
“I think we have the team to go all the way this season.”
With Dieno back in the fold, Brent Sutter is still waiting on the return of Bartosak (Los Angeles), Lukas Sutter and Kayle Doetzel (Nashville) from NHL camps.
“Kayle texted us saying he was doing his medical and is going to main camp,” said the Rebels boss. “I’m not sure if Nashville invited all their rookies to main camp, or what, but he will be back here in the near future.”
Bartosak should also be returned to the Rebels at some point next week, while the timetable for Dumba’s return is measured in months, if he’s back at all.
As for Lukas Sutter . . .
“Winnipeg will probably give him a longer look being as he’s a 20-year-old unsigned player, and yet they’re in no rush to sign him because they can wait until the season is over to do that,” said Brent Sutter.
“But he is a second-round draft pick (in 2012) and the reality is it’s his first pro camp because of the (NHL) lockout last year, so he might be given the opportunity to go through a full camp and maybe even play some exhibition games for the experience. When you’re a high draft pick like that a team isn’t going to push you to the wayside. You’re going to be given every chance to prove yourself.”
Sutter said he expects to know more by Monday regarding the potential return of Bartosak and Sutter.
• The Rebels conclude their preseason schedule with a game tonight versus the Edmonton Kings at 7 p.m. at Lacombe and a 7 p.m. meeting with the Medicine Hat Tigers Saturday in Stettler.