- Submit News Tip
- Trending Now
- Photo Galleries
- Contact Us
- Site Map
Red Deer Rebels general manager, head coach and owner Brent Sutter got out the ink and signed eight young hockey players to the club. Five of the eight prospects who signed deals were selected by the Rebels in the 2016 Western Hockey League Bantam draft. The five were the Rebels’ first five choices in the draft held on May 5 in Calgary.
It was Western Hockey League brand hockey at its finest. A tough, tight-checking and hard hitting game. The Brandon Wheat King struck first in the second period, but the Red Deer Rebels tied it up with 5:05 to play in regulation.
In the aftermath of building a roster to win in 2016, the Red Deer Rebels have some important pieces coming back. Change is a constant in junior hockey, but Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter pointed out that there are a number of forwards returning into the lineup.
Cracking a Memorial Cup-bound team’s lineup as a 16-year-old isn’t easy. Host teams tend to load up on older players, knowing they have a chance to compete for the title. Defenceman Nelson Nogier knew this heading into training camp ahead of the 2012-13 Saskatoon Blades season. The Blades hosted the Memorial Cup in 2013 and Nogier knew he had a challenge ahead of him to made the roster.
As if lacing up the skates for the team they grew up watching wasn’t special enough.
Thirty years ago, Brent Sutter and Dale Hunter were fierce, competitive NHLers. Now they coach fierce, competitive Canadian Hockey League teams. Hunter bought the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights in 2000 and has coached them ever since. Similarly, Sutter bought the Red Deer Rebels in 1999 and took over as head coach.
Before the hostilities of competing for the MasterCard Memorial Cup, the coaches of the four teams involved talked about how they’re getting ready to square off. The puck drops on the 10-day tournament on Friday, but Wednesday evening Brent Sutter, Red Deer Rebels head coach; Dale Hunter, London Knights head coach; Gilles Bouchard, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies head coach; and Kelly McCrimmon, Brandon Wheat Kings head coach gathered in the Centrium.
Draft day turned into a trade day for the Red Deer Rebels as they traded first round draft picks twice in the Western Hockey League bantam draft. After the smoke had cleared, the Rebels used their first two picks of the draft to take two players from the Bantam provincial champion Lethbridge Golden Hawks. Goalie Byron Fancy and defenceman Nicholas Draffin.
After six weeks of playoff action across the Canadian Hockey League, the Red Deer Rebels now lie in wait to see who will be their Memorial Cup opponents. In the Ontario Hockey League, the London Knights and Niagara Ice Dogs start their final series on Thursday. In the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the series between the Shawinigan Cataractes and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies starts on Wednesday.
Part of the mythology of North American playoff hockey is the idea heroes emerge from unlikely places. Despite an unceremonious exit from the Western Hockey League playoffs in the Eastern Conference Final, Evan Polei emerged for the Red Deer Rebels as that unlikely hero.
The Red Deer Rebels know what they have to do. “It’s pretty defined now, isn’t it,” said GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “Our backs are against the wall. We put ourselves in this spot to some degree, having leads in Brandon and not bearing down in the last seven to eight minutes of the games and blowing leads.”
Outshot 43-36, outscored and now on the brink of elimination, the Red Deer Rebels have a long bus ride back to Brandon ahead of them. The Rebels will have to dig deep and do something they haven’t done since April 1, win on the road.
Responding was the order of the day for the Red Deer Rebels. After losing two games where they had the lead late, Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter had to have his team respond.
Game 1 and Game 2 were basically a carbon copy of each other for the Red Deer Rebels. They withstood the early onslaught from the Brandon Wheat Kings, controlled the game for stretches and even held leads with single-digit minutes left in the third period.
Battle tested versus rested. One team coming off a hard fought seven game series, the other with a week to rest up after disposing their opponent in five games.
Some of the most important goals are not the prettiest. On Tuesday night, it wasn’t a pretty goal that put the Red Deer Rebels into the Eastern Conference Finals. But it was the most important goal, a Game 7 winner. Despite being outshot in the third period 15-4, the Rebels took a 2-1 lead with less than seven minutes in regulation in Game 7 of their Western Hockey League Eastern Conference semifinal against the Regina Pats.
Going from a best-of-seven, to a best-of-three to a winner take all game 7 shows just how close the Red Deer Rebels and Regina Pats have been. Their Eastern Conference semi-final matchup will reach its conclusion today after six games of tough, competitive hockey.
Since game 1, the Regina Pats and Red Deer Rebels series seemed destined to go the distance. And after a lacklustre effort from the Rebels in game 6, a seventh and deciding game in the Eastern Conference semifinal will conclude a series that has been a battle for both teams.
What was once a best-of-seven series, has turned into a best-of-three. Splitting the first four games, the Red Deer Rebels and Regina Pats took a one day breather before renewing hostilities tonight at the Enmax Centrium. With their Western Hockey League Eastern Conference semifinal series tied at 2-2, the series will come down to whoever wins two of the next three.
If the Red Deer Rebels can’t find some discipline, GM/head coach Brent Sutter warned ” they’ll be done here in four or five days.” Some nights this season, the Rebels have been able to battle through multiple penalties and win games. But against the high-powered Regina Pats power play it cost them, again.