It wasn’t a glamorous debut, but so few are for defencemen.
But it was enough to catch the attention of Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter.
Last Saturday night, against the Central Division leading Lethbridge Hurricanes, Carson Sass got his first real taste of WHL action.
Then on Tuesday, in an important game for the Rebels, Sass was back in the lineup. The Rebels didn’t fare as well on Tuesday as they did last Saturday, but Sass got some early opportunities to showcase his game.
The 16-year-old blueliner was drafted by the Rebels in th third round of the 2014 bantam draft.
Sass was paired with Red Deer Rebel veteran Austin Strand on Saturday and Tuesday. Strand has played with the Rebels for the past two seasons for a total of 122 games and this year has two goals and 12 points.
In his debut, Sass posted two penalty minutes, for high sticking, and even got some ice time during the power play.
“I wasn’t expecting to play, but they put me in,” said Sass. “I went out there and worked hard and tried to use the opportunity.”
He finished up his season with the Yorkton Maulers of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League as the teams top scoring defender with eight goals and 24 points.
His team lost out in the quarter-finals to the Notre Dame Hounds in five games. His midget season ended on March 4. By March 12 he was in the Rebels lineup.
Brent Sutter said Sass was called up just a few days before he made his Rebels debut.
“It was exciting when I first found out,” said Sass. “Our season was done and it is a new opportunity for me and I was excited to come out here.”
The Melville, Sask. native said he wants to bring some character to the team for the last week of the regular season and into the playoffs.
“I just want to be a guy they can depend on,” he said. “I may not be getting too many minutes, but I’m out there to work hard and hopefully get a few more minutes here and there.
“I want to be defence first and make the simple play and go there out and work hard.”
He described the switch from midget to major junior as different.
“You have to adjust and I think I’m starting to,” said Sass. “I got that first game out of the way and now I’m here.”
Sass turns 17 before the start of the next WHL season.
“I was very happy with him,” said Sutter after the game against Lethbridge. “He’s a very good, smart, intelligent defencemen. He understands the game.
“We thought we needed a little bit of a shakeup on our backend and I thought he came in and handled himself very well for a 16-year-old and he played well too.”