Just as the Red Deer Rebels were close to icing a full roster for the first time in a long time, forward Evan Polei was handed a three-game suspension Monday.
Polei was banished for a trio of contests due to the kneeing major he was assessed in Friday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. The first-period collision injured ‘Canes forward Ryley Lindgren, who was helped off the ice and didn’t return to the game.
On a positive note, the Rebels will have the services of defenceman Haydn Fleury and forward Adam Musil for the club’s three-game Western Hockey League road trip which starts Wednesday at Moose Jaw. Fleury suffered an upper-body injury during the first period of Saturday’s 6-5 overtime loss to Vancouver at the Centrium and didn’t return, while Musil missed six games with an upper-body ailment.
“We’ll be close to a full lineup once we get Evan back and if we can stay healthy,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, who still has centre Luke Philp and defenceman Josh Mahura on the injury list.
“We’ve had numerous injuries all year, but once these guys, including Luke, get back we can start building some chemistry with the forward lines.”
Philp, who underwent ankle surgery in November while a member of the Kootenay Ice, should be available for duty by Feb. 1, Sutter suggested.
The book on Mahura isn’t nearly as clear. The 17-year-old rearguard underwent knee surgery in October.
“There’s no time deadline with him,” said Sutter. “With injuries like that you have to project (a layoff of) six months, which points to anywhere from the middle of March to the first or second week of April.
“He’s been doing very well with his recovery. His doctor feels he’s ahead of schedule, but we won’t have a better idea of where he’s at until he gets skating, which won’t happen until February.”
The Rebels are in Brandon Friday to face the Wheat Kings and conclude their trip Saturday at Swift Current. Red Deer’s next home game is Jan. 20 versus Moose Jaw.
• Recently-acquired Rebels forward Adam Helewka is the WHL player of the week for the seven-day period ending Sunday.
The 20-year-old recorded eight points, including six goals, and had a plus-seven rating in four games while helping the Rebels to a 2-0-1-1 record for the week. Helewka has rung up 12 points (7g,5a) in five games since joining the Rebels Jan. 1 in a trade with the Spokane Chiefs.
“He’s been outstanding,” said Sutter.