Brooks Maxwell has 34 regular season games plus playoffs left in his Red Deer Rebels career and he wants to make them as memorable as possible.
The Rebels are gearing up to host the Memorial Cup in 2016, but he sees no reason why they cannot make a run this year in Quebec City.
“We’ve got a great looking team this year and great looking guys and we’re in a pretty good spot right now. Hopefully we can make a push and win a Memorial Cup in my last year,” he said.
The six-foot, 180-pound forward was an eighth round draft pick of the Rebels in the 2009 WHL bantam draft. He made his debut with the club in 2011 and has been a mainstay since, wearing an ‘A’ on his sweater the last couple of seasons.
Barring injury, he will finish up with 257 regular season games under his belt, placing him 16th all-time in games played in a Rebels jersey, two games ahead of Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf.
He left his Raymond home at 17, and developed from a quiet, soft-spoken teen into a leader.
“I think I’ve grown a lot, moving away from home at a young age, you’ve got to grow up and say goodbye to mom and move in with a new family,” said Maxwell.
“I think I’ve grown up lots and I learned a lot up here and learned how to be my own person and be a hockey player. It’s been a great experience.”
As part of the leadership core of the Rebels, it’s a role that extends beyond the Centrium.
“He’s been such a good soldier on the ice, he cares a lot about the franchise, and then off the ice he’s been a model citizen in everything we do,” said Rebels assistant coach Jeff Truitt.
“He’s respected in that dressing room and he’s earned that. That’s just been his longevity and what he brings to the group everyday.”
Hockey is part of his blood, he has two cousins that played in the WHL — Russell and Mitch Maxwell — as well as an uncle — Bryan Maxwell.
The high-point in his time with the Rebels so far was his playoff run in 2012-13 when he registered eight points (four goals, four assists) in nine games, playing along side Turner Elson.
He plays a strong positional game and uses his speed to his advantage to help round out his all-round game.
Maxwell has been, however, a little inconsistent when it comes to point production, tallying 117 points (40-77-117) in 223 games. He is on pace for his best season in black and red with 24 points (10-14-24) through 38 games, his previous best was 2012-13 when he scored 39 points (10-29-39) in 54 games.
His stats have jumped up in the last month, as he has scored eight points (3-5-8) in his last 10 games — most recently centring a line of Presten Kopeck and Wyatt Johnson.
If the Rebels are to go on a long post-season run his continued secondary scoring will be essential.
“We need all hands to contribute,” said Truitt. “As a 20-year-old, our older guys have got to lead the push, so we’re relying on Brooks to not only be one of those guys who works hard in the trenches and win battles but also contribute offensively.”
A long playoff run will also be critical to his own individual career.
He has gone undrafted in the NHL, but a good showing over the next few months could go a long way to pro tryouts or even a pro contract. If that fails, he will have four years of scholarship money banked for a Canadian university or college — possibly looking towards getting his teaching degree.
But he still is not thinking that far down the line, there is too much to look forward to now.
With the general manager/head coach Brent Sutter investing in players like Riley Sheen, Colton Bobyk and Nelson Nogier through trades, it makes it clear to players like Maxwell much is expected out of this season.
“It gives you all the confidence that (Sutter) is trying to make it about this year, which all teams should have as their mind set,” said Maxwell.
“At the beginning of the year there was talk that this was a building year, we’ve got the Memorial Cup next year, and we’ll try to make a run next year. But this is my last year and I hope that’s not the mind set in that room, and I know for a fact it isn’t. Every single guy in there wants to go out and win every single game and we want to win a Memorial Cup this year, and I think we are making strides in the right direction.”
The Rebels host the Kootenay Ice (20-17-0-1) tonight at 7 p.m.