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

PHOTO: Making way for new seniors’ housing complex

The former Red Deer nursing home is being torn down to make… Continue reading

Red Deer County woman seeks a living kidney donor

Merrill Kean has only 7 per cent of her kidney function left

‘I’m really happy:’ Edmonton judge rules Omar Khadr’s sentence has expired

EDMONTON — The last legal restrictions on Omar Khadr were lifted Monday… Continue reading

Decision time is coming for Red Deer-area canola farmers

China still refuses to purchase Canadian canola

Lacombe County offers farm vehicle safety checks

Checks will take place April 10-11 at remote public works shops in east and west ends of county

Svechnikov scores in overtime, Carolina beats Montreal 2-1

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes struggled to beat Montreal goaltender Carey… Continue reading

Canadian men’s soccer squad off to Gold Cup with 4-1 win over French Guiana

VANCOUER, B.C. — Canada’s men’s soccer team is looking to the future… Continue reading

Inquest into fatal Radiohead stage collapse set to get underway in Toronto

TORONTO — An inquest is set to get underway today into the… Continue reading

The Latest: Streisand apologizes for Jackson comments

NEW YORK — The Latest on Barbra Streisand’s comments about the sexual… Continue reading

Pricey Titanic wreck tours hope to bring new life to a century-old story

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Adventure tourists with money in the bank have… Continue reading

France investigates after older protester is injured in Nice

NICE, France — French authorities are investigating the case of an older… Continue reading

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department said Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s… Continue reading

New report details impact of proposed NS spaceport in event of explosion or fire

HALIFAX — The head of a company proposing to open Canada’s only… Continue reading

Most Read