A good first impression can go a long way in life and all weekend long at the Penhold Multiplex that is the task for 27 Red Deer Rebels prospects.
The team has assembled their top young talent for its annual prospect camp, with WHL Bantam Draft picks from the last two years and others on hand looking to show the coaching staff what they’re capable of.
Assistant general manager/director of player personnel Shaun Sutter said after the first session Friday it’s an opportunity for the team to put a face to a name, as well for the players to better understand the WHL lifestyle.
“You could call it an orientation camp. There’s a lot of learning and education regarding how the organization functions and how we treat our players; for these kids to get to know the players they are going to be coming to camp with in August so they can be comfortable,” Sutter said.
“They’re all guys that we like and that’s why they’re here. As much as anything it’s a stepping stone for them. The kids that are here for the first time are recently drafted. For them, it’s about getting their feet wet and learning and for the other kids, it’s about getting ready to push to play on our team.”
Rebels first round pick in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft Ethan Rowland was on the winning team burgundy Friday in the scrimmage, his squad grabbed a 2-1 win over team grey. The 22nd overall pick said he just hopes he can learn a little bit about what it takes to play at the next level.
“It’s really exciting. It’s exciting to meet all the coaches and the people, to see what the competition is going to be like in a few years. Just to get to know what the WHL is all about,” he said.
Sutter noted that there’s a reason Rowland was drafted in the first round and the 14-year-old Calgary native definitely showed why the team was so high on him Friday.
“Ethan as you can see is a quick player, that can dart in and out with the puck and make plays. Real tenacious work ethic. You don’t have to find him out there,” Sutter added.
There’s still a lot of room to grow for the 5-foot-eight, 162-pound forward, but the offensive upside is there, with 39 points in 34 games with the Calgary Northstar Sabres of the Alberta Bantam AAA Hockey League last year. He also played three games with the CNHA Canucks Minor Midget AAA team last season. In the spring, Rowland had two goals an an assist at the Alberta Cup.
“It’s a lot faster going from my league, to Alberta Cup and to here. There’s a lot less time with the puck and a lot less time to make the plays that I normally make,” he said.
He said ideally he likes to play with the puck on his stick, but thinks he can be an effective two-way player as well if needed.
“I think I’m a really competitive, speed player. I like to have the puck on my stick but I also think I can be a hard working guy as well,” he said.
While Rowland hasn’t got a chance to sport his first Rebels jersey yet, putting on the WHL crest for the first time Friday even in a practice setting is something he’s thought about for a long time.
“it’s been a dream to play in the WHL, so getting that opportunity and being one step closer is just awesome,” he said.
Players are on the ice from 3:45- 5:45 p.m. on Saturday, then Sunday morning 9- 11 a.m.