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Almost full six weeks after being acquired from the Kootenay Ice, centre Luke Philp might make his Red Deer Rebels debut Saturday versus the visiting Tri-City Americans. Perhaps. “He might be able to play Saturday, we’ll see how the week goes,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said Tuesday without making any promises. “He just started skating and has had just one full practice with the team.”
Michael Spacek notched the winning goal, but Jake DeBrusk was the face of the Red Deer Rebels Saturday night at the Centrium. The 19-year-old forward scored a goal from the doorstep and assisted on Adam Musil’s second-period tally as the Rebels posted a 4-3 WHL overtime victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter and forward Ivan Nikolishin are involved in an ongoing game of ‘Let’s Make a Deal’. Coming off his finest WHL season in which he scored 16 goals and collected 62 points in 72 games with the defensive-minded Everett Silvertips, Nikolishin has already recorded 68 points — including 27 goals — in 51 contests with the Rebels this winter.
When the will doesn’t match the skill, all too often the end result isn’t favourable. The Red Deer Rebels are a talented group, no doubt, but there have been nights when GM/head coach Brent Sutter hasn’t seen enough commitment from his charges, most notably his go-to players.
Thanks almost exclusively to netminder Rylan Toth, the Red Deer Rebels were less than four minutes away from recording a WHL victory they did not fully deserve. But in the end justice was served.
After showing his offensive prowess with a 13-point rookie season from the Red Deer Rebels’ back end, Austin Strand had to envision himself improving on those numbers this winter. But as a member of the Rebels’ third blueline pairing, Strand hasn’t seen a lot of power play time and after finding the back of the opposition net on four occasions last season, he didn’t score his first goal of the current campaign until Jan. 20, in a 6-1 win over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors.
The Red Deer Rebels’ injury woes continue. Veteran forward Conner Bleackley was helped off the ice during Saturday’s 4-1 WHL win over the visiting Everett Silvertips with an apparent leg injury and on Monday it was confirmed that he’ll be out of commission for six weeks with a fractured kneecap.
The Everett Silvertips looked like they had awoken from hibernation through the first period of Saturday’s WHL outing at the Centrium. From there, though, the Red Deer Rebels were loaded for bear and took it to the ‘Tips, prevailing 4-1 before a noisy gathering of 7,005.
That your goaltender has to be one of your best penalty killers isn’t just a common belief in the hockey world, it’s a downright fact. It should come as no surprise then that the Red Deer Rebels’ ability to erase opposition power plays has improved as of late with the emergence of netminder Rylan Toth as a dependable, everyday stopper.
Weary of surrendering power-play goals left, right and centre, the Red Deer Rebels decided their penalty kill needed a new look and a new approach. If Wednesday’s performance was any indication … mission accomplished.
That Red Deer Rebels forwards Jeff de Wit and Brandon Hagel are on the Central Scouting radar for June’s NHL entry draft is all fine and well, GM/head coach Brent Sutter stated Tuesday. However …
It’s an age-old debate, an ongoing tussle between junior A hockey supporters and promoters of the major junior game. The numbers don’t lie — Western Hockey League players advance to the pro ranks at a quicker rate than those at the lower level, and, as the argument goes, are therefore beneficiaries of a superior product. At the same time, there are junior A fans who insist that the product they watch is not inferior to the major junior game, at least in entertainment value.
With Western Hockey League teams now well into the second half of the regular season, games are starting to resemble what fans will be watching in late March and beyond. The Red Deer Rebels and Moose Jaw Warriors hooked up in a tight, intense battle Wednesday evening, an outing that was scoreless until Rebels forward Ivan Nikolishin connected at 1:19 of overtime, taking a feed from Adam Helewka and beating goalie Zach Sawchenko with a low slot.
Just as the Red Deer Rebels were close to icing a full roster for the first time in a long time, forward Evan Polei was handed a three-game suspension Monday. Polei was banished for a trio of contests due to the kneeing major he was assessed in Friday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. The first-period collision injured ‘Canes forward Ryley Lindgren, who was helped off the ice and didn’t return to the game.
There was nothing surprising about the fact that it was a light Western Hockey League trade deadline for the Red Deer Rebels Sunday. After all, GM/head coach Brent Sutter had already done his heavy lifting, adding winger Taden Rattie and elite forwards Jake DeBrusk, Adam Helewka and Luke Philp in the days leading into the deadline.
One solid period didn’t get it done for the Red Deer Rebels in a Western Hockey League contest Saturday at the Centrium. The Rebels outscored the Vancouver Giants 2-1 while outshooting their guests 17-9 over the first 20 minutes, but came up short in the end, surrendering an overtime goal and falling 6-5 before 5,873 fans despite getting three goals from Adam Helewka.
Mediocre goaltending. A lack of discipline. Granted, the Canadian goalies weren’t exactly stellar and the team was assessed too many needless penalties, but the fact remains that there was a fine line between winning and losing in the recent world junior hockey championship in Helsinki.
Could these be the real Red Deer Rebels, a team that is looking more and more like a legitimate Memorial Cup tournament host? The Rebels posted their fourth consecutive Western Hockey League triumph Wednesday at Saskatoon, blanking the Blades 5-0 before 3,445 fans at the SaskTel Centre.
Outside of a handful of defensive and short-handed hiccups, the Red Deer Rebels were breathing relatively easy Tuesday night. The Rebels coughed up a pair of power-play goals and were too generous on one other occasion, but otherwise controlled the play while skating to a 4-3 Western Hockey League win over the Prince Albert Raiders before 2,219 fans at the Art Hauser Centre.
There’s a lot to like about the Red Deer Rebels’ latest acquisitions, GM/head coach Brent Sutter insisted Monday. In fact, centre Luke Philp, who was obtained Sunday from the Kootenay Ice, and winger Adam Helewka, who came over in a deal with the Spokane Chiefs two days earlier, are similar players, Sutter suggested.