Philp close to debut for Rebels

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.”

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.”

Philp, one of the top two or three Western Hockey League 20-year-olds available for trade this season, was acquired from the Ice Jan. 3. At the time he had already been out of action for six weeks due to ankle injury and still led the Ice in scoring with 13 goals and 29 points in 22 games.

“We want to get him into a few more practices,” said Sutter, who was en route from the Edmonton International Airport after attending WHL board of governors meetings in Las Vegas. “Luke is 100 per cent physically, as far as his ankle is concerned. It’s just his conditioning now.”

So, for at least the next three days and perhaps longer, Philp will remain on an injury list that recently added forwards Braden Purtill (concussion) and Reese Johnson, who dislocated his shoulder during a scrap with Kootenay defenceman Troy Murry in a 5-2 Rebels win last Friday in Cranbrook.

Both are out indefinitely, as are forward Conner Bleackey and defenceman Josh Mahura, both with lower-body injuries.

“It’s been one of those years. We just haven’t been able to get our entire team together,” said Sutter.”We’re hoping that come March we can get close to icing a full team.

“But with the way the year has gone, who knows?”

The Rebels are in Calgary Friday to face the Hitmen, then, after hosting the Americans 24 hours later, will head west Monday on a four-game trip starting the following day at Kelowna and including stops in Kamloops and finally Prince George for a Saturday-Sunday set.

• The board of governors granted WHL commissioner Ron Robison a five-year contract extension during the Las Vegas meetings.

Robison, who joined the WHL prior to the 2000-01 season, is currently in his 16th season as commissioner and CEO of the league. The new contract will extend Robison through the 2020-21 season.

“They were good meetings, we went through and discussed a lot of items, different things we have to plan for in June (during the annual general meetings),” said Sutter.

“There could be some changes. We might accept and implement more of what the NHL is doing regarding certain rules.”

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