Gay excited for opportunity with Rebels

The Regina Pats decided that being solidly in second place in the WHL’s Eastern Division wasn’t proof positive that the team would experience a lengthy playoff run come spring.

The Regina Pats decided that being solidly in second place in the WHL’s Eastern Division wasn’t proof positive that the team would experience a lengthy playoff run come spring.

Therefore, with a bigger focus on the future, Pats head coach and senior vice-president of hockey operations John Paddock dealt away his top 19-year-old players, starting with forward and Calgary Flames prospect Morgan Klimchuk and followed by defenceman Kyle Burroughs and forwards Dryden Hunt and Connor Gay.

Klimchuk was dealt to the Brandon Wheat Kings last Friday and on Monday Paddock sent Burroughs and Hunt to the Medicine Hat Tigers and Gay to the Red Deer Rebels. Coming back the other way were younger players and draft picks, although the Rebels also got a first- and second-round pick due to the fact that arguably their top prospect, Jake Leschyshyn, was included in the deal.

Gay would have been happy if he had survived the purge, but he’s more than OK with being the newest addition to the Rebels roster.

“The Pats made the decision that they wanted to base the team around the younger guys. I respect that decision and I’m lucky enough to come to Red Deer,” the 19-year-old right winger said Wednesday following his first practice with the Rebels.

“I’m extremely excited about getting the opportunity to play in this organization. It’s a pretty good feeling.”

Gay, who instantly becomes the Rebels’ leading scorer with 20 goals and 44 points in 39 games this season, felt he would be staying with the Pats as a veteran presence once Burroughs and Hunt had been dealt to the Tigers earlier Monday.

“When Dryden and Kyle got traded to Medicine Hat I thought I might be OK to be staying in Regina,” said Gay. “But I knew there was a possibility I might be traded because I had talked to John. He couldn’t give me an answer either way.

“But it’s history now and I’m here and I’m happy.”

Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter isn’t expecting Gay to become the Rebels’ primary go-to guy. Sutter merely expects the six-foot, 190-pound Saskatoon native to continue to play to his potential.

“We’re looking for him to provide us with a real good veteran presence,” said the Rebels boss. “He’s got a knack for scoring goals. He’s good around the net and just from watching him in practice you can tell he’s a real smart player.

“He’s not going to be a guy who is physically dominant, but he’s going to battle and win battles just from having good size. He’s a smart player who knows how to play the game and that’s what we want from him.”

As a third-year WHL player, Gay feels that he harbours leadership skills.

“I like to think so. I’m a guy who doesn’t speak a ton but I like to do it with my play,” he said. “ I work hard and hopefully I can help this team continue to win.”

Gay will make his Rebels debut Friday night versus the host Kootenay Ice, skating on a line with Presten Kopeck and centre Brooks Maxwell. Meanwhile, Wyatt Johnson will move onto a line with Riley Sheen and Conner Bleackley.

The Rebels will host the Brandon Wheat Kings Saturday.

gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

The RDC Queens picked up an extra special victory on home ice… Continue reading

PHOTOS: The Mustard Seed CEO speaks at Seeds of Hope Gala in Red Deer

The first-ever Seeds of Hope Gala was held at the Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

‘Stupid’ law preventing Canada’s re-engagement with Iran: retired envoy

OTTAWA — The real reason the Liberal government hasn’t been able to… Continue reading

Voters head to polls for BC municipal elections today

VANCOUVER — Voters in British Columbia will head to the polls today… Continue reading

All sharks tagged in N.S. expedition can now be tracked on Ocearch website

HALIFAX — All six of the sharks tagged in Nova Scotian waters… Continue reading

Memorial service for former PQ minister Lise Payette today in Montreal

MONTREAL — Mourners will gather to remember former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister… Continue reading

Immunotherapy scores a first win against some breast cancers

For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown… Continue reading

‘Mom I’m in trouble:’ Canadian, Brit face 10 years in jail for alleged graffiti

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — The mother of a Canadian who was arrested… Continue reading

Coyote on the prowl near Penhold

This coyote was out on the prowl in a field just west… Continue reading

Most Read