It’s been a tough season so far for the Red Deer Rebels Black, but head coach Glen Goodall believes that can change before the end of the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League season.
“The biggest issue so far has been confidence,” said the Rebels first-year coach. “We had a lot of injuries to start the season and the challenge so far has been once we got everyone back was to get them into the swing of things. We’ve only played five games so far with a full lineup.
“We’re not looking for excuses, but it’s a challenge to get into a rhythm and get our confidence up.”
The Rebels had a 5-17-2 record following a 4-0 loss to the Calgary Flames Saturday at the Arena. They play Sunday in Calgary against the Royals, but results were unavailable.
“Today (Saturday) we played a real good team, one of the league’s top teams, and I was proud of the way the guys didn’t quit, especially in the third period.”
The Rebels, who were outshot 41-13, trailed 4-0 after 40 minutes.
The Rebels have a relatively veteran team with only four first-year players in forwards Josh McNeil and Elijah Funkhouser and defencemen Ethan Schlag and Ryan McMann.
“When I was picking the team I wanted skill and at times we’ve shown that and look like a real good team, but the problem is most of the players don’t believe we’re a good team.
“It’s tough in that once we get down a goal we don’t rebound back,” said Goodall. “Its like any team that lost a few games, it’s a challenge to stay focused. What we need is to play a couple of games for a full 60 minutes so the boys begin to believe in themselves.”
The Rebels do have talent up front, led by Tyress Goodrunning, who was named to the South All-star team.
“Tyress battles hard no matter if we’re up or down,” Goodall said.
“He never quits. He shows his character every night.”
Brenden Davidson, Brad Hellofs, Seth Stratton, Jacksyn Goodall, Levi Glasman, Justin Paarup and Braidon Westin round out the forward unit.
The team also has talent on the back end, but once again it’s a matter of playing with confidence, according to Goodall.
“When the guys take the extra second, get their feet moving, skate and make the plays they look great. But a lot of times they look nervous and struggle, but it’s not only the defencemen, the forwards as well.”
Dayton Playford, Quinn Justinen, Daegen Macdonald and Dawson Stanton round out the defence. Shae Herbert and Justin Travis share goaltending duties.
If things come together in the second half of the season, Goodall feels the Rebels have a shot at the playoffs.
“We’re just behind Lethbridge and they hold the last playoff spot,” he said. “If we get into the playoffs I believe we have the talent to upset a team, I really do. Now it’s a matter of getting everyone believing we can.”
l Meanwhile the Rebels White dropped a 13-2 decision to the Calgary Bisons on Saturday.
Adam Sandstrom and Jarrett Brandon scored once each with a pair of Red Deer goaltenders making 30 saves. The Chiefs had 23 shots on goal.