Fitted with a walking boot and moving about on crutches Monday, Red Deer Rebels captain Adam Kambeitz looked like a player whose season had prematurely ended.
The fourth-year centre suffered a severe lower body injury when he fell awkwardly into the boards during Friday’s 3-2 WHL overtime win over the visiting Tri-City Americans. Kambeitz returned for a couple of shifts but eventually retreated to the dressing room and then missed Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Brandon.
“It was kind of an unlucky play. What I remember was tripping and falling into the boards feet first on a different angle,” said the 19-year-old. “I didn’t realize it was as big an injury as it was, so I tried to play with it.”
The official medical report on Kambeitz is that he will be out a minimum of six weeks, but in fact he may be done for the season. If the worst-case scenario does materialize, he will join defenceman Justin Weller and goaltender Patrik Bartosak — who undergoes shoulder surgery today — as victims of season-ending injuries.
“It’s a risk we take playing this sport,” said Kambeitz, who missed 14 games with an upper-body injury earlier in the season. “Injuries can happen and obviously it’s been an unlucky year for me. But it is what it is and we move forward. I have to stay positive and just support the guys as much as I can.”
Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin has dealt with a multitude of injuries this season. When all is said and done, the club will lose more than 200 man-games in 2011-12 after taking a total hit of 110 last season.
“Kamby is just the latest,” said Wallin. “It’s a tough blow and he’s had a tough year. He lost his mom this past summer so he had a lot on his plate.
“I know he was really excited to get back from his previous injury, and now this. It’s a tough break for him and for us, but it’s one of those things that life throws your way sometimes. It’s about how you respond and we have to do it the proper way as a team. We’ll be there to support him and we also need him to support us.”
The Rebels are hoping to have forward Brooks Maxwell — absent the last two weeks with an upper-body injury — back for tonight’s game against the Tigers at Medicine Hat. However, defencemen Kayle Doetzel (broken rib) and Devan Fafard (upper body) remain out on a week-to-week basis.
To make matters at least temporarily tougher for the Rebels, rearguard Mathew Dumba left for Kelowna Monday to prepare for Wednesday’s NHL/CHL Top Prospects Game. As a result, midget AAA affiliates Haydn Fleury (Notre Dame Argos) and Kevin Pochuk (Winnipeg Wild) will fill in on the Red Deer blueline tonight.
“We’ll try and use these guys (Fleury, Pochuk) as often as they’re available,” said Wallin. “But their teams get first priority.
“For the most part, we’ll have to make do with five defencemen until someone like Fafard comes back. In the meantime, the forwards will have to do a good job for us defensively.”
• The Rebels, in support of Red Deer KidSport, will don special jerseys when they take on the visiting Calgary Hitmen Saturday.
The jerseys will be tagged with a ‘buy-now’ price and those that are not sold will be auctioned off — via a silent auction — up until the end of the first-period intermission. Fans making the winning bids will be presented with the game-worn, autographed jerseys on the ice following the game.
The venture, with Finning Canada on board as a major sponsor, is expected to raise $25,000 to $30,000 for KidSport, which — in the words of Red Deer chairman Mike Jaillett — is a volunteer organization that helps remove financial barriers for children wishing to get involved with any sport or activity.
“We get our funding from organizations like this, from people within the community who find it within themselves to donate to KidSport,” said Jaillett. “We finance up to $250 annually per child, so a fund-raiser like this could help out 1,000 kids within the community.”
Rebels senor vice-president Merrick Sutter said the idea was born during an off-season meeting with Finning management.
“We wanted to do something with (Finning). As a sports organization we’re always looking for ways to give back and KidSport is a great organization,” said Sutter. “They do a great job of making sports and recreation affordable to kids. It’s a great cause.”
A similar Rebels fund-raiser raised over $20,000 for the Red Deer Ronald McDonald House two years ago.