Rebels defence getting experience

Mathew Dumba was a virtual no-brainer. Kayle Doetzel . . . not so much. Both Red Deer Rebels defencemen are currently overseas with different versions of Team Canada, Dumba with the U20 crew for the four-game Canada/Russia Challenge which starts today in Yaroslavl (9 a.m., TSN2) and Doetzel with the U18 squad preparing for the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament starting Saturday in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Mathew Dumba was a virtual no-brainer.

Kayle Doetzel . . . not so much.

Both Red Deer Rebels defencemen are currently overseas with different versions of Team Canada, Dumba with the U20 crew for the four-game Canada/Russia Challenge which starts today in Yaroslavl (9 a.m., TSN2) and Doetzel with the U18 squad preparing for the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament starting Saturday in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Dumba, selected seventh overall by the Minnesota Wild in this year’s NHL entry draft, was pretty much a lock for the Canada-Russia series, which for Hockey Canada is replacing the national team summer evaluation camp for the 2013 world junior championship.

Doetzel, meanwhile, wasn’t necessarily a favourite to be named to the U18 team following a selection camp which concluded Monday at Toronto. But to his credit, the Rebels’ 2011-12 rookie of the year was one of seven defencemen selected from the field of 12 candidates.

“There was a good crop of high-quality defencemen at the camp and I know that just based on last season, he was in tough to make the team going into camp,” said Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin.

“He obviously acquitted himself very well. He’s a guy who had to go in there and earn a spot, so he did that and good on him. It’s going to be a great experience for him and he’ll come back a better player for it.”

Wallin certainly never doubled Doetzel’s work ethic and commitment to off-season training.

“Kayle has been training hard,” said Wallin. “He had a disappointing finish to last season when he got hurt in January and didn’t play again. I know he’s been training hard and getting prepared for this season and obviously it paid off for him, making that (Canadian U18) team.”

With the loss of Aaron Borejko, Justin Weller and Alex Petrovic to graduation and the pro ranks, Doetzel will take on a heavier workload during the upcoming season. Wallin admitted the coaching staff has big plans for the 17-year-old.

“He’s going to be a key guy for us,” said the Rebels bench boss.

“When he came in last year he was feeling his way around at the start of the season and then as he got more experience the more confident he became and he ended up being a real reliable guy.

“He played a bit of power play, but that’s not going to be his forte. He’s a real solid, steady, dependable guy who plays with an edge. He became a reliable guy for us and we missed him when he wasn’t in the lineup.”

Meanwhile, Czech defenceman Jan Bittner has cleared any hurdles that would prevent him from checking into training camp Aug. 25.

“He’s all ready to go,” said Wallin, in reference to the Rebels’ lone pick in the CHL import draft in June. “We’ve got his flights booked and documentation all taken care of. He’ll be here for camp.”

Wallin noted that prospects Scott Ferguson and Spencer Kryczka could also attend training camp.

Ferguson, who helped the Red Deer Optimist Rebels capture the Canadian midget AAA championship in April, intends to suit up with the Camrose Kodiaks for the 2012-13 season, while Kryczka played with another AJHL team — the Okotoks Oilers — last winter.

“It’s not 100 per cent that (Ferguson) will not be at our camp even though he’s apparently made a commitment to Camrose,” said Wallin. “It’s the same situation with Kryczka. It’s still kind of up in the air. Either one, or both, might or might not be in camp.”

The Rebels training camp opens with registration on the 25th and concludes Aug. 29 with the Black and White intrasquad game. Red Deer’s first of six preseason games is Sept. 1 versus the Prince George Cougars in St. Albert and the club opens regular-season play Sept. 21 at home to the Calgary Hitmen.

Notes: Former Rebel Jeff Smith (1998-2002) has signed a one-year contract with the Hull Stingrays of the British Elite League. Smith played last season in the Netherlands, scoring one goal and adding 12 assists in 37 games with The Hague . . . Another former Rebel, Ponoka native Mark Louis (2007-08), has secured a contract with the Phoenix Coyotes after playing Canadian university hockey at St. Francis Xavier the last three seasons.

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