It is said that an athlete’s true colours are exposed when the competition is the most heated.
Certainly, nothing could be closer to the truth when pertaining to the Western Hockey League playoffs. The Red Deer Rebels are no exception to the rule and have possessed their share of proven post-season performers over the years, mostly during the early 2000s.
The Rebels franchise playoff scoring leader is Boyd Gordon, who currently makes his living as a faceoff whiz and checking centre with the Edmonton Oilers.
Gordon has never surfaced as a true offensive player during his 11 seasons in the NHL, but was a productive forward in the WHL playoffs, collecting 52 points — including 21 goals — in 72 post-season outings from the spring of 2000 to 2003.
The Regina native was, of course, a Rebel during the stretch in which the club won a league championship — and an ensuing Memorial Cup in 2001 — and advanced to the WHL final each of the next two years, but was a clutch player all the same.
Others included in the top-10 all-time Rebels playoff scorers:
Joel Stepp (45 pts)— Like Gordon, Stepp was with the Rebels during the club’s glory years and the product also appeared in 72 playoff games, netting 24 goals and adding 21 assists for 45 points, second in franchise playoff scoring history.
Stepp was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in 2001, but never played a single game in the NHL, instead toiling in the AHL and ECHL for the better part of seven seasons.
Justin Mapletoft (43) — The talented centre is third on the Rebels playoff scoring list and did most of his post-season damage in 2001, putting up 34 points (13g,21a) in 22 games.
That Mapletoft, whose playoff production totalled 43 points (18g,25a) in 40 games, was so productive in the spring of ‘01 was hardly a surprise, considering he captured the WHL scoring title that season with 43 goals and 120 points in 70 regular-season outings and was subsequently named the most outstanding player in the country.
Drafted by the New York Islanders in 1999, he appeared in 38 NHL games, scoring three goals and recording nine points in the process.
He last played in 2012 in Germany.
Arron Asham (37) — The feisty Asham produced at more than a point-per-game pace during his three playoff springs — 1996 to ‘98 — with 18 goals and 37 points in 31 contests.
Asham, a highly-skilled forward who often played with a chip on his shoulder, was a Montreal Canadiens draft pick in 1996 and crafted a 789 regular-season game NHL career by playing a physical role. He scored 94 goals and collected 208 regular-season NHL points and garnered another 11 goals and 19 points in 72 post-season games.
Colin Fraser (37) — The product of Sicamous, B.C., suited up with the Rebels from 2001 to 2005 and appeared in 71 playoff outings over that span.
Fraser, who collected 37 post-season points, including 16 goals, was selected by Philadelphia in the 2003 NHL entry draft and went on to play 359 NHL regular-season games and appear in 39 playoff games, winning two Stanley Cups with Los Angeles and one with Chicago.
Fraser is currently with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL.
Martin Erat (36) — Most remarkable about Erat’s production is he put up 36 points (15g,21a) in a single playoff run — the 22-game march to the 2001 league championship.
Now 33, the multi-talented Erat graduated directly from the WHL to the NHL and has carved out a career under the Big Top consisting of 901 regular-season and playoff games. Currently with the Arizona Coyotes, he has put up a total of 182 NHL goals and 559 points.
B.J. Young (35) — Young was a pure offensive talent during his two-plus seasons with the Rebels, collecting 35 points (12g,23) in just 24 playoff games.
He was particularly productive during the 1997 playoffs, coming off a 58-goal regular season.
A 1997 draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings, the native of Anchorage, Alaska, played just one NHL game and was killed in a car accident in November of 2005 after spending the previous season with the Alaska Aces of the ECHL.
Jeff Woywitka (35) — The top-scoring defenceman in Rebels playoffs history and WHL rearguard of the year in 2003, Woywitka was an effective puck-mover with good size during his four years in Red Deer.
Selected by Philadelphia in the 2001 NHL draft, the Vermilion native potted five goals and registered 35 points in 72 WHL playoff games, then went on to appear in 283 NHL regular-season and playoff games, collecting 55 points (9g,46a). Woywitka, 31, is currently skating with Augsburg of the German League.
Dion Phaneuf (32) — A two-time WHL defenceman of the year, the product of the Edmonton minor hockey system contributed 10 goals and 22 assists in 60 post-season outings.
A rugged WHLer with a major-league shot, Phaneuf played in two world junior championships with Team Canada — winning gold in 2005 — and made his NHL debut with the Calgary Flames in the fall of ‘05. An NHL rookie-of-the-year candidate in ‘05-06 and an emerging star, Phaneuf was dealt to Toronto in 2009 and is currently the Maple Leafs captain.
Phaneuf has 760 NHL games under his belt as well as 122 goals and 408 points.
Greg Schmidt (32) — The speedy Schmidt was a Rebels post-season hit in 1997, sniping six goals and garnering 21 points in 16 games as Red Deer advanced to the Conference final before falling to Lethbridge. The year before, the North Battleford, Sask., product produced five goals and 11 points in 10 playoff games.
Schmidt kicked around the minor pro ranks for several years following his major junior graduation in ‘97 before heading overseas to play six seasons in Germany. His playing days ended in 2005.