Photo by ASHLI BARRETT/Advocate Staff

REBELS VS WHEAT KINGS -- sports-- Red Deer Rebels forward Jake DeBrusk crashes the net of Brandon Wheat Kings netminder Logan Thompson for his third goal of the game during Saturday night WHL action at the Enmax Centrium.

Rebels mow down Wheat Kings

The Red Deer Rebels’ newly-acquired offensive star was a major hit in his debut Saturday night at the Centrium. Skating on a line with Ivan Nikolishin and centre Jake DeBrusk, Adam Helewka scored once and added three assists as the Rebels blasted the Brandon Wheat Kings 10-0 in a WHL contest viewed by 5,742 fans.

The Red Deer Rebels’ newly-acquired offensive star was a major hit in his debut Saturday night at the Centrium.

Skating on a line with Ivan Nikolishin and centre Jake DeBrusk, Adam Helewka scored once and added three assists as the Rebels blasted the Brandon Wheat Kings 10-0 in a WHL contest viewed by 5,742 fans.

Clearly, the 20-year-old didn’t require an adjustment period after being obtained from the Spokane Chiefs the previous day and after serving a six-game suspension for injuring an opponent in a fight that followed the final buzzer of a Dec. 12 contest versus Tri-City. He fit in immediately and was only too happy to contribute to a big win.

“It’s great to be part of this team, this organization,” said Helewka, following his second-star selection. “This is my first day here and I’m already loving it.”

Helewka admitted he was emotional at the news he was on his way out of Spokane.

“It was tough to say goodbye to all of the players and the staff and my billets,” he confessed. “I made some really strong relationships over the last almost three and a half years. It was tough to say goodbye, but at the same time I was super excited to come and be a part of this team going towards the Memorial Cup.”

The Rebels exploded for seven first-period goals to make the final result a mere formality.

Defenceman Nelson Nogier ignited the onslaught at 4:21. Brandon netminder Jordan Papirny got a piece of the blast from the top of the circle but couldn’t prevent what proved to be the winning goal.

From there, DeBrusk sniped his first of three markers on the evening, converting a give-and-go with Helewka at 6:07. Helewka found the back of the net at 13:19 for a 3-0 lead, Grayson Pawlenchuk tallied 37 seconds later and Brandon Hagel, DeBrusk, again, and Conner Bleackley rounded out the opening-frame eruption.

The first-period production fell one goal short of a team record that was established when the Rebels connected eight times in the opening 20 minutes en route to an 11-4 win over Prince Albert on Jan. 12 of 2002.

“We put a lot of pucks on net,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, in reference to the 19 shots faced by Papirny and Logan Thompson, who replaced his teammate following Red Deer’s fifth goal.

“I’m sure they (Wheat Kings) would like to have some of those (goals) back, but credit our kids for moving their feet and generating some offence. We had some speed in our game and obviously the big line created a lot tonight.”

After dominating in the early going, the Rebels were outshot 13-7 in the second period while serving the only two minor penalties of the stanza. But goaltender Rylan Toth, who finished with a 30-save shutout — his third of the season — turned aside every Brandon opportunity.

“I thought Tother made some key saves at certain times,” said Sutter, whose club held a 35-30 advantage in shots overall.

While Toth was earning his keep in the middle period, DeBrusk completed his hat trick, his wrister from the high slot catching the top of the net.

Nikolishin scored the Rebels’ ninth goal at 14:14 of the third period — a marker that was originally credited to DeBrusk — and Pawlenchuk potted his second of the night and 15th of the season 58 seconds later.

“That’s a good team we played. They had a tough night,” said Sutter.

As for his own squad …

“We played hard, we had energy, we had emotion, and that’s kind of what we want to see from our team,” said Sutter. “We can generate offence, but again we have to continue to do other things well, like managing the puck. At times tonight we were really good at that and at times we were probably a little sloppier than we wanted to be.

“But it’s a big win. Any time you can generate that kind of offence it’s certainly a confidence booster for your group.”

Sutter was more than impressed with Helewka’s debut.

“I think it speaks for itself what type of player he is,” said the Rebels boss. “It has been close to three weeks since he last played a game and I thought he really had his feet moving. He’s a big, strong body who protects the puck and makes plays.

“I (also) like his responsibility on the ice. He knows how to play the game.”

Helewka’s skills and assets aside, his acquisition and ensuing opening-game performance sparked the other Red Deer veterans, as Sutter had hoped.

“It’s a jolt, right?” said Sutter.

“We need to have more emotion, more intensity right from our dressing room out to the bench and on to the ice, and we certainly had that tonight.”

The Helewka-DeBrusk-Nikolishin unit combined for 13 points.

“Those players have amazing skill,” said Helewka of his new linemates. “Through just one game I think we’ve kind of found some chemistry together and I hope we have a great season ahead of us.”

The Rebels left today for a two-game road trip that consists of stops in Prince Albert and Saskatoon Tuesday and Wednesday. Red Deer will host Lethbridge and Vancouver Friday and Saturday.

Just Posted

Businessman and volunteer named 2019 Citizen of the Year

John Donald’s parents and sister were each honoured previously

School leader named Red Deer Young Citizen of the Year

Leading by example at Hunting Hills High School

Suspects shot at pursuing police during crime spree

No police officers were injured in May 17 shooting

Mental health survey looks at children and youth in Red Deer

Parent and guardians experiences accessing services for children

Respect Day in Red Deer

Sexual Violence Awareness Month in Red Deer

B.C.’s fight to regulate bitumen through pipelines to go to Canada’s top court

BC Appeal Court judges found B.C. cannot restrict bitumen flow along Trans Mountain pipeline

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

College Beat: Convocation celebrates success and future possibilities

On June 7, at our Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, we… Continue reading

Veer: Public safety is council’s top priority

The number one question that City Council continues to hear from our… Continue reading

Padres knock off Blue Jays 6-3

Padres 6, Blue Jays 3 TORONTO — Hunter Renfroe hit a tiebreaking… Continue reading

Scholarship named in honour of young Lacombe crash victim

Scholarship given to committed Grade 12 teen mentors in the community

O Canada: Hockey hotbed now produces tennis players, too

ROME — It’s typically Canadian that Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Bianca… Continue reading

Proctor back chasing running records after cross-Canada speed attempt

CALGARY — Dave Proctors’ attempted speed record across Canada last summer was… Continue reading

Big names headed to New Mexico to film ‘The Comeback Trail’

SANTA FE, N.M. — Oscar winners Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones… Continue reading

Most Read