The Red Deer Rebels have dipped into the junior A ranks for help more than once in their 21-year history.
Forwards Matt Ellison, who came over from the BCHL in 2002 and scored 40 goals and garnered 96 points in his only season in Red Deer before turning pro, and Rhyse Dieno, who joined the Rebels from the SJHL one year ago and was the club’s top scorer at season’s end, come to mind.
Forwards Justin Taylor and Dustin Moore, who played in the AJHL before joining the Rebels in 2003 and ‘06, respectively, also had a positive impact with the club.
However, for every player who makes the upward move, there are several who are reassigned —or leave at their own request — from the WHL to the junior A level. Currently, at least nine former Rebels are plying their trade in western Canada junior A loops, and the list includes:
Scott Feser — The Red Deer native was selected in the eighth round of the 2010 bantam draft and played nine games as a WHL rookie in 2011-12. He started last season in Red Deer before being reassigned to Camrose of the AJHL and then being recalled several weeks later.
Feser, 18, was reassigned back to Camrose early this fall and has five assists in 12 games with the Kodiaks.
Riley Boomgaarden — The six-foot-four defenceman was a WHL rookie last season, collecting one assist in 21 games, but he was deemed expendable this fall and eventually joined the Melfort Mustangs of the SJHL. The Grande Prairie native, 19, has two helpers and 10 penalty minutes in six games with Melfort.
Colten Mayor — The St. Albert native joined the Rebels in 2009 and was dealt to the Regina Pats 11 games into the ‘12-13 season. He was subsequently traded to Calgary and closed out the season with the Hitmen before hooking up with the Whitecourt Wolverines of the AJHL this fall as a 20-year-old forward.
Mayor is fifth in AJHL scoring with 26 points (13-13) in 17 games.
Daulton Siwak — Siwak, an Olds product, was a second-round pick of the Rebels in the 2008 bantam draft and appeared in 61 games as a rookie a year later. The right winger had 27 points (13-14) in 2010-11 and was traded to Prince George 28 games into the following season.
Siwak played 38 games with the Cougars last year before walking out on the club and signing with the Dauphin Kings of the MJHL. The 20-year-old is a key member of the Kings and this season has produced four goals and 16 points in 17 games.
Cody Thiel — The product of Bruno, Sask., in 2011 earned a berth with the Rebels as a virtual training camp walk-on. He played two seasons in Red Deer and was traded to the Portland Winter Hawks last summer.
Instead of attending the ‘Hawks camp as a 20-year-old, Thiel decided to spend his final junior season with Kindersley of the SJHL. To date, his decision has been a win-win as the Klippers are off to an 11-3-1-1 start and Thiel is 13th in league scoring with seven goals and 15 points.
Stephen Hak — The Winnipeg native signed with the Rebels in 2011 after playing with the Steinbach Pistons of the MJHL as a 16-year-old. The defenceman was in Red Deer one season before being traded to the Regina Pats in October of last year.
Hak, 19, was recently cut loose by the Pats and has rejoined the Pistons, who are the MJHL defending champions and currently hold down top spot in the league.
Locke Muller — The six-foot-four winger was brought into Red Deer in 2010 to provide muscle to the Rebels roster. He played 40 games in 2010-11 and was dealt to the Saskatoon Blades 33 games into the following season.
Muller closed out the season with the Blades, then left for the Bonnyville Pontiacs of the AJHL as a 19-year-old. Now in his second and final season with the Pontiacs, the team captain has produced three goals and six points in 22 games, to go with 107 minutes in penalties.
Kevin Pochuk — A fifth-round pick of the Rebels in the 2010 bantam draft, Pochuk was a star defenceman with his hometown midget AAA Winnipeg Wild in 2011-12 and also played 11 games with Red Deer that season. He opened the ‘12-13 season with the Virden Oil Capitals of the MJHL before being recalled by the Rebels and appearing in 32 games.
Pochuk was traded to the Saskatoon Blades in June and played five games with the WHL club this fall before being released. The 18-year-old is back with the Oil Capitals and has nine points (3-6) in 11 games.
Earl Webb — The big-bodied winger was selected by the Rebels in the seventh round of the 2011 bantam draft. He made his WHL regular-season debut this fall and appeared in five games — with no points — before being reassigned to the Calgary Mustangs of the AJHL.
The Calgary native has contributed one goal in four games with the Mustangs.