Rebels Black having success as a team
Red Deer Rebels Black head coach Kevin Smyth knows what it takes to have success at any level of hockey.
“I know from my playing days that you can have the best team on paper, but if you don’t come together as a team you have a tenancy to struggle,” said the former National Hockey League forward, who played several years with the Bentley Generals.
Smyth has put together a well-balanced bantam team that “plays as a team.
“The kids are buying in. They work real hard and hopefully they keep it going.”
They showed some of their skill and team work Sunday afternoon as they dumped the Calgary Flames 8-4 and earn a split of a pair of weekend games. They lost to the South Division leading Calgary Bisons 5-2 in Calgary Saturday.
The Rebels have depth on the offensive side, led by Jeff de Wit, who is one of four players who played in the league last season.
“We count on everyone to chip in offensively . . . we score by committee, although Jeff, Luke (Coleman) and Parker (Smyth) lead the way, but we have several others who are gritty and understand how to play their role. It’s working out for us.”
De Wit leads the team with 18 goals and 24 assists while Coleman had 14 goals and 19 helps and Smyth 13 goals and 13 assists.
Outside of depth up front, the Rebels, who are second in the Ram South Division with a 12-12-2 record, have one of the top rearguards in TJ Brown, who is third in league scoring for rearguards with 14 goals and 15 assists.
“TJ is a heck of a player, he’s special to watch,” said Smyth. “He’s a kid you could see at the next level, the WHL, in a few years.”
Smyth believes he has several other players, including de Wit, Coleman and Smyth, who could be picked in the WHL’s bantam draft.
“It’s hard to pick 14-year-olds, but they have as good a chance as anybody,” he said.
All four — de Wit, Coleman, Smyth and Brown — played bantam AAA last year.
“We also have some good kids moving up from bantam AA,” said Smyth. “There’s a misconception it’s not that good of a league, but that’s not the case. Some of the kids needed time at that level and have stepped in and done a good job for us. We have a good mix.”
Smyth also has four first-year bantam players in defencemen Adam Sandstrom and Dayton Playford and forwards Tyress Goodrunning and Jeremy Klessens.
He liked what he sees from all four.
“They’re good kids who will be moving along,” said Smyth, who got back into coaching at the minor level this season after being away for several years.
“I did coach midget AAA in Red Deer and Calgary, but I spent some time with Bentley helping Brian (Sutter) the last few years. But it was time to come back and help the kids out. I do enjoy it.”
The teams were tied 3-3 Sunday after 40 minutes after scioring three times each in the second period. Smyth, Austin Thorne and Brown connected for the Rebels. De Wit, Ryan Vandervlis, Smyth, Matthew Froehlick and Brown added goals in the third period. Geordan Andrew finished with 20 saves in goal while his mates had 30 shots.
On Saturday, Goodrunning and de Wit scored once each while Graydon Larson made 24 saves.
The Rebels White squad pulled out a 6-5 victory over Airdrie Saturday on Tyler Steenbergen’s second goal of the game at 9:33 of the third period. Tanner Zentner, Colby Sissons, Tyler Wall and Domenic Schmiemann added single goals while Dawson Weatherill finished with 40 saves.
l Defencemen Logan Neal and Brady Park and forwards Kyle Gibson and Kobe Scott round out the Rebels Black roster . . . de Wit and Brown will play for the South Division along with Steenbergen in the league all-star game Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Arena . . . The two Red Deer teams clash Sunday at noon at the Arena.