He’s a long way from his Texas dwelling, but Jace Foskey is feeling right at home in the Red Deer Rebels rookie camp.
“Camp has been fantastic. The rink is amazing. It’s been a beautiful experience so far,” the 15-year-old defenceman said Sunday, following the second of two scrimmages on the opening day of the Rebels training camp rookie sessions.
“I’ve been trying not to be too nervous. I’ve been trying to do as well as I can.”
Foskey suited up with the Dallas, Tex., under-16 team last season, scoring once, adding three helpers and accumulating 54 penalty minutes in 24 regular-season and playoff games.
He was selected by the Rebels in the seventh round of this year’s WHL bantam draft on May 7, a bona fide steal in the eyes of GM/head coach Brent Sutter and assistant GM/director of player personnel Shaun Sutter, considering most top-end American prospects tend to focus on securing U.S. college scholarships.
“We think Jace is the best defenceman in the western United States,” Shaun Sutter said on the day of the draft.
“He’s a player we can see wearing our jersey one day.”
Brent Sutter, also on draft day, was confident that Foskey would indeed suit up with the Rebels as early as next year.
“He’s pretty excited. I also talked to his parents and they’re very excited,” said Sutter. “We had him ranked as one of the top two defencemen in the U.S., so we’re pretty excited about getting him. Our scout in Dallas coached him and he knows the family really well.”
Sutter was referring to Lucas Reid, an assistant coach with the Dallas U16 squad and a Rebels scout.
“I paid a lot of attention to the (WHL) draft,” said Foskey. “Our assistant coach works for the Rebels and it was just great to have him there to teach me and help me develop.
“I feel that I’m a two-way player with the ability to get up the ice and still get back to stop scoring chances.”
Foskey likened the pace of Sunday’s rookie camp scrimmages to that of the U16 tier 1 elite level he played at last season.
“Tier one in Texas is almost exactly like this,” he said.
While Foskey hasn’t committed to playing for the Rebels at some point, he won’t be suiting up for any WHL preseason games this fall in order to preserve his NCAA eligibility. So far, he’s been courted by two American schools — Miami of Ohio and Wisconsin.
Still, he’d be pumped to be held over for Wednesday’s Black and White game.
“To be promoted up with the main camp players would be great. That way, I could get the whole (camp) experience,” said the six-foot-one, 175-pound rearguard.
“And I’m definitely interested in playing in the WHL down the road. This is a fantastic organization.”