Adam Kambeitz felt like he was blind-sided.
Was he complaining? Not a chance.
The Red Deer Rebels captain and veteran winger was somewhat shocked Thursday when he learned he’ll compete in the Subway Super Series as a member of Team WHL. This year’s games versus Team Russia are set for Nov. 16 and 17 in Regina and Moose Jaw, with Kambeitz — one of 29 players named to the league’s elite squad — scheduled to play in Regina.
Rebels defencemen Mathew Dumba and Alex Petrovic were also selected to Team WHL, as expected. Kambeitz, by his own admission, did not anticipate being honoured in a similar fashion.
“It was definitely surprising. I didn’t see that coming but it’s definitely an honour,” said Kambeitz. “I’m pretty happy that the selection committee (consisting of WHL general managers and Canadian national junior team head scout Kevin Prendergast) saw something in me and I’m really excited about it.”
Kambeitz shone offensively right out of the gate this fall and currently sits fourth in team scoring with five goals and seven points in 12 games.
“I got off to a good start and that’s probably when they did a lot of the selections,” said the fourth-year, five-foot-11, 197-pound forward. “I’ve kind of faded off that way the last few games and I have to get back on track offensively.”
The Coaldale native, a seventh-round pick of the Rebels in the 2007 bantam draft, has never faced international competition.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever played in an all-star game,” he added. “In minor hockey I was always the fourth guy on the team and was never sent to one of those games. So this will be a pretty cool experience for me. I feel blessed that I’ll have this opportunity.”
Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin was excited for Kambeitz.
“He’s a heart-and-soul guy and it’s nice to see guys like him get rewarded,” said Wallin. “Kamby is a real important part of our team. He was a big part of the team last year and this year his role is a little bigger with him being our captain.”
In other words, it’s his intangible assets which earned Kambeitz his selection.
“He’s a little bit under-rated. He’s not the most skilled guy and he’s not a guy who’s going to naturally put up huge offensive numbers,” said Wallin. “But he’s an invaluable part of a good hockey team. He can play against anybody. You can play him against top lines in a checking role. He’s a big, strong kid, an excellent skater and he’s been an elite penalty killer in our league for the last couple of years now. There are many elements that he brings to the table. He’s a character guy, a character kid.”
(See the list of Team WHL selections in Scoreboard on Page B4)
On the move: Former Red Deer Rebels first-round bantam draft pick Connor Redmond has perhaps played his last WHL game. The 19-year-old forward, who was taken 11th overall in the 2007 draft and then dealt to the Vancouver Giants early in the 2009-10 season, was reassigned to the Coquitlam Express of the BCHL Wednesday after two injury-plagued seasons in Vancouver. Redmond had four goals and 12 points in 71 games with Red Deer and six goals and seven points in 69 games with the Giants. “The Giants are heading in a different direction with their young guys and stuff,” Redmond told Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun. “So it was kind of a mutual decision, I guess you could say, for me to come back down and find my stride. If the chance comes up, I’ll probably be joining another WHL team. There are no hard feelings with the Giants. They treated me extremely well while I was an injured guy.” Added Giants GM Scott Bonner: “Connor told me he wanted to go somewhere where he could play 10 games in a row to see if he still had it. He wanted to see how durable he was. Maybe he’ll go down to Coquitlam and find his groove.” . . . The
Medicine Hat Tigers needed a proven, veteran defenceman. The Prince Albert Raiders were in need of an offensive boost. The clubs, accordingly, completed a deal earlier this week in which the Raiders got forward Kellan Tochkin in exchange for rearguard James Bettauer and a sixth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. “When this came up Kellan’s name was bantered back and forth, giving up skill for a veteran defenceman and we thought it was a fair deal,” Tigers GM Brad McEwen told Sean Rooney of the Medicine Hat News. “Our secondary scoring has struggled a bit but we do believe as we keep moving forward, guys will get more confidence with that and it’s something we can live without to put in a veteran defender like James.” At the time of the trade, Bettauer had nine points in 15 games and Tochkin had eight assists in 10 games . . . The Calgary Hitmen obtained 20-year-old defenceman Collin Bowman, centre Joey Kornelsen, 17, and a fourth-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft from the Jaw Warriors Thursday, in return sending overage forward Kenton Miller and winger Justin Kirsch, 19, to the East Division team. “We needed a puck-moving defenceman for our power play and to add young talent up front,” said Hitmen GM Kelly Kisio . . . In another deal Thursday, The Seattle Thunderbirds moved defenceman Erik Fleming, 19, to the Swift Current Broncos in exchange for a 10th-round selection in next year’s bantam draft . . . The Giants picked up winger Taylor Makin, 19, on waivers earlier this week. Makin, who started the season with the Prince George Cougars, is a cousin of former Vancouver Canuck Rick Rypien, who at the age of 27 took his own life in August. “We were very close,” Makin, from Blairmore, told Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province. “It makes it extra special to come play here. He spent so much of his career here. Now, I get a fresh start on my career here, too. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity here. And he would have been very excited about this.”
Just notes: The Western Canada Under 16 Challenge Cup opened Thursday afternoon at Moose Jaw with Team Alberta meeting Team Manitoba in an afternoon contest. Forward Conner Bleackley, the Rebels’ first-round pick in the 2011 bantam draft, is a member of the Alberta squad. Team Saskatchewan, featuring Red Deer draft picks goaltender Grant Naherniak and defencemen Haydn Fleury and Vukie Mpofu, took on Team B.C. in an evening match.