International hockey is returning to Red Deer.
The Red Deer Rebels will host a Subway Super Series game Nov. 27 at the Centrium. The contest — the fifth of the 2013 six-game series — will pit Team Russia against a squad of Western Hockey League all-stars selected by Hockey Canada and a WHL committee.
Red Deer last hosted a Super Series game in 2004, when current Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd scored two goals and added an assist as part of a 6-0 WHL win.
Rebels senior vice-president Merrick Sutter said Wednesday that the series has improved in quality over the past few years, the reason being that the Russians have sent stronger teams.
“It’s a really exciting event and has improved dramatically since the last time we had it here,” said Sutter. “The last three to four years the quality of the event has doubled.”
The Canadian Hockey League teams — the Ontario and Quebec leagues each host two games — dominated the event for years, but last season the Russians won their second Series title since 2010 and later edged Canada in overtime in the bronze medal game of the 2013 World Junior Championship with a roster that included five CHL players and an additional 17 players from this series.
The Subway Super Series has been an integral part of the identification process for the Canadian national junior team for 10 years, hence the participation of Hockey Canada in the CHL all-star team selections.
“The game is a hybrid between an all-star game and an event for world junior hopefuls,” said Sutter. “Russia has had the upper hand lately so it should be a really competitive game. The series has grown towards being a legitimately competitive event.”
Sutter said the Rebels were granted the game by the WHL head office.
“It’s not a bid process, it’s more a discussion with the league,” he remarked. “The league tries to be fair to all of the markets. I think the majority of markets in Canada have hosted the event. It’s more of a rotational thing.”
Rebels season-ticket holders for the 2013-14 WHL season have a ticket for the Super Series game as part of their package.
“So it’s huge to be a season-ticket holder this year,” said Sutter, who added that individual tickets will go on sale at some point in the fall.
“We’d like to hammer out some details first. Tickets will be high demand,” he noted.
The 2013 Subway Super Series opens Nov. 18 at Gatineau, Que., and continues two days later at Sherbrooke. The series then moves to Ontario for games Nov. 21 and 25 at Oshawa and Sudbury, before shifting west for matches in Red Deer and Nov. 28 at Lethbridge.
All six games of the Series will be broadcast nationally on Sportsnet, with TVA Sports televising both games from the QMJHL.
Rebels defenceman Mathew Dumba played in last year’s Super Series.