Rebels at top of pack on PK

The Red Deer Rebels have racked up more than their share of penalty minutes this season, but extra time in the box hasn’t resulted in extra goals against. The simple explanation is that the Rebels’ penalty kill is the best in the Western Hockey League at a sparkling 86.7 per cent success rate.

The Red Deer Rebels have racked up more than their share of penalty minutes this season, but extra time in the box hasn’t resulted in extra goals against.

The simple explanation is that the Rebels’ penalty kill is the best in the Western Hockey League at a sparkling 86.7 per cent success rate.

“We do spend a lot of time working with our penalty kill, including watching a lot of video,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, whose team hosts the Kamloops Blazers tonight at 7 p.m. at the Enmax Centrium.

“I think it really helps when you know who your four defencemen are killing penalties, which pairs are working together and are in synch. You work with four defencemen and four forwards, and some nights you use six forwards depending on how many penalties you’re killing. And of course your best penalty killer is always your goalie.”

Netminder Rylan Toth has been particularly sharp while the Rebels have been short-handed, which Sutter insisted hasn’t been the case as often as the club’s 475 penalty minutes — the sixth-highest total in the league — would indicate.

“The amount of minor penalties we’ve taken this season hasn’t been that bad,” he said, pointing to two fight-filled games — at Seattle and at home versus Swift Current — as the primary reasons the club’s sin-bin minutes have piled up.

“We try and keep our minors to no more than four or five in a game. There’s been the odd game when we’ve taken more than that, but overall our discipline has been a lot better in that area this season. It has been the majors that have ran our minutes up, mostly due to a couple of games. Other than that we’ve been below average with (taking) minor penalties.”

Sutter also credited his team’s shot-blocking capability as a reason for the penalty kill success.

“Penalty killing is a lot about blocking shots, not giving up high-percentage shots and making sure you keep certain areas shut down,” he said.

Meanwhile, defenceman Austin Strand and forward Adam Musil will be in the Red Deer lineup tonight despite being listed as day-to-day on the WHL weekly injury report.

In the event that Strand had been unable to play, Austin Shmoorkoff — due also to the fact Haydn Fleury is attending the Canadian national junior team final selection camp — would have drawn into the lineup against the Blazers.

Instead, the 17-year-old will have to wait to make his 2014-15 Rebels regular-season debut.

“It’s a situation where he knows his role here and he knew what it would be when we brought him back,” said Sutter, who recalled the Edmonton native from the junior A ranks Nov. 12.

“He understands it and his practice habits have been really good. We’ll have no problem with putting him at some point if need be.”

Rearguard Nick Charif, meanwhile, is back practising after missing 20 games with a lower body injury and could join the club for a two-game trip this weekend.

The Rebels are in Moose Jaw Saturday and Brandon Sunday.

“We’ll see how he is over the next few days here and he’ll be re-evaluated by a doctor before we leave on our trip Friday,” said Sutter. “We’ll determine at that time whether he will make the trip with us.”

Sutter admitted, however, that he does not have a definite return date for the 19-year-old rearguard.

“We don’t know when he’ll play, we just know that he’s progressing, that he’s at a point where he’s taking part in full practices,” said the Rebels boss. “He’s been feeling good after practices so he might play soon, or there’s still a chance he might not play until right after Christmas.”

• The Lethbridge Hurricanes fired general manager Brad Robson Wednesday, one day after cutting ties with head coach Drake Berehowsky.

Former Rebels head (1992-95) and assistant (‘98-2000) coach Peter Anholt was serving as the ‘Canes assistant general manager and will assume both the GM and head coaching duties.

“Going forward and seeing where we were as an organization we felt a change was necessary that was in the best interest of our players, shareholders and fans moving forward,” said Hurricanes board president Doug Paisley in a press release.

The community-owned ‘Canes are last overall in the WHL with a 6-19-3-1 record and haven’t qualified for the playoffs since 2009.

Just Posted

Tending the fields like a pioneer near Spruce View

Weekend of horse-drawn plowing, seeding and more at Double Tree Village Museum

Red Deer County tweaks animal control bylaw

Some residents complained earlier version of animal bylaw was too restrictive

PHOTO: Planting a colourful garden at Red Deer City Hall Park

Think you have a lot of yard work to do? This crew… Continue reading

Wheeliker to continue to impact Red Deer women’s shelter

New provincial role for Red Deer shelter executive

WATCH: Ellis Bird Farm open for summer

There is something magical about the Ellis Bird Farm located outside of… Continue reading

B.C.’s Horgan defends fight to both retain and restrict Alberta oil imports

YELLOWKNIFE — B.C. Premier John Horgan says he is fighting to both… Continue reading

Media are not an arm of the police, Vice lawyer tells Supreme Court hearing

OTTAWA — Journalists are not an investigative arm of the police, a… Continue reading

‘Knees-together’ judge can practise law again

Former judge Robin Camp allowed to practise law again: Law Society of Alberta

Photo: Roundabout action on 67th Street

Construction season is in full force

Alberta demands all-party support for pipeline at western premiers meeting

Leaders from western Canadian provinces, territories holding a morning meeting today in Yellowknife

Manitoba First Nation community trapped by smoke as fire creeps closer

WINNIPEG — Hundreds of people from a Manitoba First Nation are sitting… Continue reading

Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus to receive the 2018 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is one of the most decorated actors in television history.… Continue reading

Pipeline decision too close to chastise B.C. at western premiers meeting: Notley

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says while other western premiers meeting… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month