The Red Deer Rebels met with legions of their of fans just a couple days before they head to the Western Hockey League playoffs.
Hundreds filled the ENMAX Centrium Wednesday for Rebels Fan Fest, where fans could skate with the players, get autographs, and even paint messages to the team on the ice.
Red Deer’s Jennifer Davidson was at the event with her young children Owen and Leah. The three of them are big Rebels fans, Davidson said.
“We always love coming to the games, we try to come out as much as possible,” she said.
“It’s nice to be able to support the team like this and to be here as a family. The Fan Fest is really ramping up the excitement for the playoffs,” Davidson said.
Mike Garland, who is also from Red Deer, took in Fan Fest with his four-year-old daughter Emma and six-year-old son Nicholas.
“The kids and I always want to come out to the games,” said Garland.
Garland said his son has been so focused on his own minor hockey, he didn’t even know the Rebels were in the playoffs.
“I love junior hockey, so I’m personally excited to see the playoffs,” Garland said. “The team was down so far in the standings at one point in the year and now they’re here. Who knows what could happen?”
Merrick Sutter, Red Deer Rebels senior vice-president, said this event was a big success, especially considering it was on a school night.
“This is an opportunity for players to engage with our young fans and kick off the playoff season,” Sutter said.
This is the first time the team has done a big celebration at this time of the season, Sutter said.
“We’ve always done skates with the team and things of that nature, but never all in one night or on game night. It’s something we’ll look to do more of in the future,” he said.
The Rebels’ first-round playoff matchup begins Friday in Lethbridge. Red Deer’s first home game is March 27 at the Centrium.