Array

Array

Pair of Rebels rookies have bright future

For the Red Deer Rebels and stud rookies Conner Bleackley and Haydn Fleury, it’s not about ‘what have you done for me lately’, but rather ‘what will you do for me down the road.’

For the Red Deer Rebels and stud rookies Conner Bleackley and Haydn Fleury, it’s not about ‘what have you done for me lately’, but rather ‘what will you do for me down the road.’

The pair of 2011 bantam draft picks represent the future of the Rebels, although both have already contributed while showing plenty of promise during their first full season in the Western Hockey League.

“No question, there’s so much potential with both of them. They are two great prospects,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said on Thursday at the Centrium, where he put his charges through a practice session in preparation for tonight’s home game versus the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

“They’re both big kids, big strong guys who have skill sets to go with their size. Those are two guys you really want to build your team around. That was all part of the process when we were out looking at younger players to acquire this season . . . was to get players to fit with those two guys in the future.”

Bleackley and Fleury, chosen in the first and second rounds, respectively, of last year’s bantam draft, will compete in the 2013 World Under 17 Challenge running Dec. 29 to Jan. 4 in Drummondville and Victoriaville, Que.

Both players stood out during summer camps for their respective U17 Challenge squads — Bleackley with Team Pacific (Alberta/B.C.) and Fleury with Team West (Manitoba/Saskatchewan). That both were selected to play in the international tournament was hardly a surprise.

“It’s going to be a fun Christmas season, for sure,” said Bleackley, who was with Team Alberta for the 2011 Western Canada U16 Challenge but will be facing international competition for the first time.

“I haven’t played against the European competition yet and obviously this is this is a huge event with the chance to play against those teams,” he added.

Said Fleury, who this season has scored twice and contributed seven assists in 26 games: “It should be a good experience to play against the top players in Canada and the rest of the world.”

Fleury has international experience, having played with a Notre Dame, Sask., midget AAA team during summer and winter tours of Russia and Austria last year.

“The teams we faced played with lots of speed and transition. I expect it will be the same in Quebec,” he said.

Bleackley, a budding power forward with a heavy shot, has scored four goals and collected 10 points in 26 outings this season. He’s satisfied with his play, which he senses is improving along with the overall performance of the team.

“The team has gotten a lot better since the start of the year and I’ve been getting better too,” he said. “We’re starting to roll with Brent behind the bench and I think there’s more of that to come.”

The fact Sutter and new associate coach Jeff Truitt have instituted a more offensive game plan over the past week is just fine with Bleackley.

“Everybody is just more engaged (offensively), that’s the way we’ve been playing,” he said. “We’ve outscored the opposition 12-2 in the last three games. I think that’s the way we have to play to be successful.”

Fleury, a strong skater with the ability to carry the puck, agreed with his teammate.

“It’s been really good. He (Sutter) wants to play with lots of speed and he wants the D-men getting up the ice quick and scoring goals,” said Fleury. “I enjoy getting in on the offence.”

Fleury has rarely resembled a rookie this season and in fact has been among the Rebels’ best rearguards on a regular basis.

“It’s been good. Playing with (20-year-old Brandon) Underwood has really helped my game. He keeps it simple back there,” said Fleury. “We’re also learning under new coaches. Jesse (former bench boss Wallin) was great and now (Truitt) seems like a really good coach.”

For the pair of Red Deer rookies, the opportunity to play in the World U17 Challenge comes with the bonus of getting into the Hockey Canada development stream. If they continue to progress on schedule, both will be candidates for the Canadian national junior team in two to three years.

“They both had outstanding summer camps and they’re among the top players in their age group,” said Sutter.

l Defenceman Kayle Doetzel, who suffered a broken jaw on Oct. 2 at Prince Albert and hasn’t played since, was cleared for contact this week and may be in the Rebels lineup on Saturday when the Moose Jaw Warriors — featuring future Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly — will visit the Centrium.

Doetzel is listed as day-to-day.

Rebels

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A sustainability audit for Westerner Park suggested 33 changes, including more city involvement. (Advocate file photo)
Westerner Park expands volunteer program

Westerner Park is recruiting volunteers to fill several positions. The new Volunteer… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
Appeal Court restores privileges for man who killed five at Calgary house party

EDMONTON — The Alberta Court of Appeal has restored some privileges for… Continue reading

A 19-day trial has been set for June 2022 for Chase Freed, who is accused of shooting to death a shopper outside the southside Red Deer Walmart and firing shots at two other people in the parking lot. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Man who killed a shopper outside Red Deer Walmart in December 2019 to go to trial in 2022

Chase Freed charged with second-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
All adult Albertans to be offered first dose of vaccine by end of June: Premier

Alberta’s premier says the province will be “back to normal” when 72… Continue reading

Black Press Media file photo
Alberta doctors say trust must be rebuilt after proposed new labour deal rejected

EDMONTON — The head of the Alberta Medical Association says many factors… Continue reading

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on December 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Patrick Doyle
New regulator to stop sexual exploitation of children online: public safety minister

OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the government will introduce… Continue reading

Gordon Greenwood Elementary Grade 7 students were assigned to write about climate change. The Langley Advance Times is pleased to present a selection of their writings. (Sasha/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

OTTAWA — A new report shows Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he will vote against a… Continue reading

Eugene Kwon of Gratia Bakery and Cafe says the business will be relying on take out orders and a small patio. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

OTTAWA — A group representing thousands of the country’s small businesses says… Continue reading

Ron Howard is photographed at the "Inferno" film premiere on Oct. 25, 2016 in Los Angeles. (Buckner/Rex Shutterstock/Zuma Press/TNS)
Brothers Ron and Clint Howard have memoir coming in October

NEW YORK — Filmmaker-actor Ron Howard and actor Clint Howard, brothers, former… Continue reading

FILE - In this Saturday, March 27, 2021 file photo, Buffalo Sabres’ Taylor Hall plays against the Boston Bruins during the second period of an NHL hockey game, in Boston. The Buffalo Sabres could trade 2018 MVP Hall, who signed for just this season and is a pending free agent. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
Boston Bruins acquire Taylor Hall to kick off NHL trade deadline day

Trade deadline day in the NHL has started with the Boston Bruins… Continue reading

The Huawei logo displayed at the main office of Chinese tech giant Huawei in Warsaw, Poland, on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. Poland’s Internal Security Agency has charged a Chinese manager at Huawei in Poland and one of its own former officers with espionage against Poland on behalf of China. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
Huawei, HSBC agree on document deal for extradition case

HONG KONG — Chinese telecommunications equipment firm Huawei said Monday that it… Continue reading

The Montreal Police logo is seen on a police car in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Hundreds defy Montreal’s 8 p.m. curfew in violent, destructive protest

MONTREAL — Hundreds of protestors gathered in Montreal on Sunday in defiance… Continue reading

Most Read