Forward Evan Polei and defenceman Kayle Doetzel can’t return to the Red Deer Rebels’ active roster soon enough.
Polei has missed the last four games with an upper-body injury and Doetzel has been sidelined for nine contests after suffering a foot injury last month.
The Rebels are hopeful that both will be back in the lineup in time for Sunday’s game versus the visiting Calgary Hitmen. Polei could actually be back for Friday’s home game against the Medicine Hat Tigers, who will entertain Red Deer tonight.
“Evan has been skating and practising. We’re hoping for Friday, and if not probably Sunday,” GM/head coach Brent Sutter said Tuesday.
As for Doetzel …
“He’s having x-rays done tomorrow (today),” said Sutter. “He’s been working out, riding the bike, but we’ve kept him in a boot to avoid any further problems. He said he feels great and that he’ll be ready to start practising on Thursday. We’d like to get him into two or three practices before he plays.”
The return of the two veterans takes on extra importance considering defenceman Haydn Fleury and forward Michael Spacek will, in all likelihood, appear in their final WHL game of 2015 tonight.
Fleury will join the Team Canada hopefuls at a selection camp opening Thursday evening in Etibicoke, Ont., and is a favorite to crack the national team roster for the World Junior Championship Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Helsinki. Finland. Spacek will head overseas for the Czech Republic camp, and he too is a virtual certainty to compete in the world juniors.
While the return of Polei and Doetzel will help fill the void, the fact remains the Rebels have flat out missed their presence in recent outings. Both are more, much more, than marginal players.
“They could have made a difference for us this past weekend, no question about that,” said Sutter, whose team lost to both Lethbridge and Prince Albert.
Sutter said forward Ivan Nikolishin, the Rebels’ top scorer, has not been invited to the Team Russia camp.