'Faf' safe and steady for Rebels
He will never be mistaken for Mathew Dumba and put up impressive offensive numbers, but Devan Fafard is a valuable commodity in his own right.
Fafard has been a reliable figure on the Red Deer Rebels blueline this season, with his safe and steady style just what the coaching staff ordered.
“‘Faf’ was a little slow through training camp but in the last few weeks he’s really found his stride,” Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin said on Thursday at the Centrium, where his team will face the Kootenay Ice in a WHL contest tonight (7:30 p.m. start).
“He’s played extremely well. He was very good on our (recent) road trip and has been one of our most consistent guys on the back end of late.”
The 18-year-old product of Carlyle, Sask., is a member of the Rebels special teams and is appreciative of the extra responsibility he’s been handed.
“So far I’ve been pretty happy this season. I’ve been getting more ice time playing on the penalty kill and I’m just trying to play my role and play solid,” said Fafard.
And his role involves taking care of his own end while playing with an edge and moving the puck forward.
“Keep it simple, play a physical game and keep everybody honest out there. I’m a stay-at-home D-man, that’s for sure,” said Fafard, who has scored once and added one assist in 13 games this season, but, more importantly, is a team-best plus-5 in the plus/minus category.
“I’m not a guy who’s going to be scoring a whole lot,” he said, grinning.
“I’ll contribute that way when I can, but mostly I try to be a bit of a safety valve for guys like Matty (Dumba).”
Wallin was mostly a physical, meat-and-potatoes rearguard during his playing days with the Rebels and as a pro, and perhaps sees a bit of himself in Fafard.
“He’s a guy who plays the game hard, a hard-nosed kid who plays with a lot of energy,” said the Rebels bench boss. “He’s just been very, very consistent this season, he’s been good killing penalties and he’s been solid defensively. He’s a guy who has to keep the game simple, but he’s also been a good first-pass guy who moves the puck out of trouble.”
Fafard joined the Rebels at the trade deadline last January, coming over from the Saskatoon Blades. He felt at home almost immediately.
“It’s been good here, I’ve fit in well with the guys and it’s a great organization. They treat us very well here,” said the six-foot, 191-pound rearguard.
“He’s an excellent guy in the dressing room,” said Wallin. “He’s a small-town kid who has a great work ethic and he’s just one of those guys who shows up every day prepared to go to work. He’s well-liked in the dressing room and leads by example with his play and his attitude.”
The Rebels managed three wins on their recent six-game jaunt through the East Division and were riding a three-game win streak after edging the Medicine Hat Tigers 2-1 one week ago at the Centrium, but have since dropped two in a row.
Fafard insisted there is no reason the club can’t get back to its winning ways, starting tonight.
“Definitely not, we just have to get our real mentality back,” he said.
“Just keep it simple and play gritty Rebels hockey. And we have to get it going right away with two big weekend games with Kootenay (including a visit to Cranbrook on Sunday), a division rival.”