Rebels hope to get the home fires burning

Home cooking didn’t agree with the Red Deer Rebels last season. Clearly, that has to change in 2014-15, stressed GM/head coach Brent Sutter, who last winter too often suffered from his own bouts of indigestion at the Enmax Centrium.

Home cooking didn’t agree with the Red Deer Rebels last season.

Clearly, that has to change in 2014-15, stressed GM/head coach Brent Sutter, who last winter too often suffered from his own bouts of indigestion at the Enmax Centrium.

Red Deer was an unimpressive 16-16-0-4 at home during the 2013-14 Western Hockey League campaign, as opposed to 19-16-1-0 on the road. With the Rebels hosting the Edmonton Oil Kings in their second-to-last preseason contest tonight at 7 p.m., there’s no time like the present to reverse that home-ice trend.

“Obviously that’s one thing we have to improve on this year, playing better at home,” Sutter said Thursday. “And I think with the maturity of the group, we will be better at home.”

Sutter is of the opinion that too many of his players were hampered by off-ice diversions last season.

“It’s a big step for some of those kids who come out of midget and even junior A hockey and into major junior hockey, and you can get caught up in the distractions away from the rink,” he said. “You can’t have that at this level. You have to be focused. You have to prepare yourself and be ready to play the game.

“I thought last year we struggled with that and it showed in our record at home. We need to be better at home and with the group we will be just due to the maturity level, just the fact these kids have a year of experience and understand the things we talked to them about at the end of last season. The focus and the preparation has been better this year. We have to play a certain way, and we have to establish that at home.”

The Rebels lost a pair of close preseason games two weeks ago, then posted 4-2 wins over the Tri-City Americans and Portland Winterhawks last weekend at Kennewick, Wash.

Sutter has liked his team’s approach and mannerisms right from the opening faceoff of the exhibition season.

“Our work ethic has been really good, that just has to continue,” said the Rebels boss, who fully anticipates no decline in energy output and positive attitude once the real season starts. “We have some really good players here and yet we were a young team last season,” he said. “Now that we’re a year older, our expectations are higher. We should all have higher expectations. What’s encouraging is the guys are playing like they expect a lot from themselves.

“They came back this year as a determined group. The conditioning level of the players is outstanding. Our practices have been high-level, fast-paced and intense, and that has all carried over into our games.”

The Rebels close out their six-game preseason slate Saturday at Stettler against the Medicine Hat Tigers.

“I want us to finish off these last two exhibition games on a positive note,” said Sutter. “For the most part we’ve been really good for the first four games and now it’s just a matter of carrying that on.”

Taz Burman will start in the Rebels net tonight, with Rylan Toth getting the call at Stettler.

With four skaters — defencemen Haydn Fleury (Carolina) and Kayle Doetzel (Toronto) and forwards Conner Bleackley (Colorado) and Wyatt Johnson (Anaheim) — attending NHL camps, all but one of the 21 roster players still in Red Deer will see action in both games this weekend.

Power forward Evan Polei is the lone exception. The 18-year-old endured a lacerated finger last weekend and is sporting stitches, but will be ready for Red Deer’s regular-season opener Sept. 19 against the visiting Kootenay Ice.

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