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Red Deer Rebels are the city’s hometown heroes
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Red Deer Rebels defenceman Haydn Fleury is one of 45 players invited to the Canadian national junior hockey team’ summer development camp Aug. 3-8 in three Quebec centres — Brossard, Montreal and Sherbrooke. Fleury, who is projected as a top-10 to top-15 pick in this year’s NHL entry draft Friday and Saturday in Philadelphia, is also one of 16 Western Hockey League players invited to the summer camp.
Red Deer Rebels teammates Haydn Fleury and Conner Bleackley have the date circled on their calendar. In fact, they had their magic markers out many months ago. Fleury, the smooth-skating defenceman, and Bleackley, the Rebels captain and gifted sniper, will both attend this year’s NHL entry draft set for June 27-28 in Philadelphia. June 27, when the first round will be conducted, is the date they’re focusing on.
Forward Conner Bleackley and defenceman Haydn Fleury of the Red Deer Rebels are among 23 Western Hockey League players who will attend the 2014 NHL draft combine May 26-31 in Toronto. The combine will feature 119 prospects — including 18 international players — for this year’s entry draft, set for June 27-28 in Philadelphia.
Red Deer Rebels general manager/head coach Brent Sutter went into Wednesday’s Canadian Hockey League import draft with the hopes of improving his blue line. Based on size and potential. . . mission accomplished.
The Red Deer Rebels’ first-round pick in the 2013 Western Hockey League bantam draft is right on schedule.
Yes, the Red Deer Rebels are interested in hosting the 2016 Memorial Cup. No, the team will not bid to host the Canadian major junior hockey championship tournament if a large-market team enters the process with financial backing that’s impossible to match, unless there’s an understanding that money will not be the deciding factor.
Quality, not quantity, is the theme of this year’s Red Deer Rebels spring prospects camp set for Friday to Sunday at the Penhold Regional Multiplex. The quality is in the form of 24 players — down from 32 last year, a number that included 17-year-olds — all of whom were born in 1998 and ‘99.
The Red Deer Rebels will take their Western Hockey League preseason act south of the border this fall. The Rebels, for the first time ever, will participate in an exhibition tournament Sept. 4-6 at Kennewick, Wash., a three-day event also involving the host Tri-City Americans, Kootenay Ice, Seattle Thunderbirds, Portland Winterhawks, Spokane Chiefs and Everett Silvertips.
The mighty pen was front and centre Wednesday at the Red Deer Rebels office. Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter inked goaltender coach/consultant Taylor Dakers to a new deal, while forward Jake Leschyshyn of Saskatoon and netminder Dawson Weatherill of Red Deer — the club’s first two picks in this year’s Western Hockey League bantam draft — signed standard player contracts.
The Red Deer Rebels hit a home run in the 2011 Canadian Hockey League import draft, selecting Czech netminder Patrik Bartosak 59th overall. But that was then, this is now. And the prevailing question is: Can the club smack it out of the park once again in this year’s import draft, set for Wednesday?
The Red Deer Rebels will open their 2014-15 Western Hockey League regular season Sept. 19 against the visiting Kootenay Ice. Red Deer will visit the Calgary Hitmen the following day and will host the Ice Sept. 27 before heading out on their annual early-season East Division road trip that will include stops in Moose Jaw, Brandon and Regina Oct. 2, 4 and 5.
They were a long way from home, but Austin Pratt and Grant Mismash felt right at home during the weekend. The impressive Minnesota-born-and-raised forwards soaked up everything the Red Deer Rebels spring prospects camp had to offer and both stood out among the list of 24 1998- and ‘99-born players at the Penhold Regional Multiplex.
Conner Bleackley and Red Deer Rebels teammate Haydn Fleury were relaxing Saturday, less than 24 hours after experiencing one of — if not the most — exciting evenings of their young lives. “It’s been pretty crazy,” said Bleackley, who was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round – 23rd overall — of the NHL entry draft Friday in Philadelphia, 16 picks after Fleury was nabbed by the Carolina Hurricanes.
That didn’t last long. Just a month after hitting the unemployment line, Mike Williamson returned to the WHL Tuesday as head coach of the Tri-City Americans. Williamson, who was fired by the Calgary Hitmen in mid-April after five seasons as head coach, replaces Jim Hiller as the Tri-City bench boss. Hiller was canned by the Americans last Friday, and coincidentally held that post for five years.
Former Rebels netminder Patrik Bartosak didn’t have to pull out a map to realize Red Deer is a lot closer to Los Angeles than his hometown of Koprivnice in the Czech Republic. The notion of spending 10 days in his former second home was both practical and appealing to the 21-year-old, who arrived in Red Deer Saturday and will head back to Los Angeles Sept. 10 to attend the Kings’ NHL rookie camp.