Kristian Reichel showed Friday night why the Red Deer Rebels picked him in the first round of the CHL Import Draft.
In their annual preseason mini-tournament, Red Deer opened with an efficient 5-3 win over the Calgary Hitmen at the Centrium.
It was Reichel who stole the show and likely earned himself a couple local fans in the first of five preseason games with a hat trick in his official Rebels debut.
“The guys helped me a lot. When you get your first goal on your first shift everything is easier from there. It was awesome,” said the 19-year-old forward from Most, Czech Republic.
A few hats rained down for the son of former NHLer Robert Reichel, who played the majority of his career down the road in Calgary.
Robert said “you will see him here and you will know” when talking about his son’s ability earlier in training camp and that prediction couldn’t have come through any more clear.
The Rebels forward blasted a wrist shot past the glove of Hitmen goalie Nick Schneider just 19 seconds into the game and put another one past him late in the first.
His third-period-hat-trick goal was a rocket of a one-timer from just inside the faceoff circle on a five-on-three.
“He can shoot the puck. He’s a smart player and he works and competes,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said. “You can tell he’s played at a high level. It was impressive.”
Reichel spent most of last season playing professional hockey in the Czech Republic with HC Litvinov.
Seventeen-year-old Chris Douglas converted a pretty pass from Reese Johnson midway through the second and 16-year-old River Fahey went off the crossbar and in late in the frame for the Rebels.
Layne Toder, Justyn Gurney and Hunter Campbell scored in the loss for Calgary.
Rebels goalie Ethan Anders looked calm in between the pipes in the first period, with 12 saves. He allowed all three goals in the second, one on a point blank wrist shot and the other two on defensive breakdowns.
“You can’t fault him for any of the goals… I thought he did a good job,” Sutter said.
Lasse Petersen entered the game in the third period and stopped all nine shots he faced.
Overall, Sutter said the coaching staff was happy with the performance. He added they will likely make some roster tweaks before Saturday’s game.
“It was what we were hoping for,” Sutter said.
“We wanted to have a quick start and I thought some the young kids played well and our vets were good too. Good feel for some things and some guys that you wanted to see where they are at showed us.”
After the game, Red Deer reassigned defenceman Nic Draffin (2001) and forward Justin Svenson (2001) to midget AAA.
The Rebels are back on the ice Saturday night when they take on the Edmonton Oil Kings, with puck drop set for 7 p.m. at the Centrium.