Red Deer Rebels forward Arshdeep Bains finished with 112 points in his final Western Hockey League season. (File photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)

Red Deer Rebels forward Arshdeep Bains finished with 112 points in his final Western Hockey League season. (File photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)

Bains reflects on final season with Red Deer Rebels

The forward signed a NHL entry-level contract with the Vancouver Canucks this past March

Arshdeep Bains saved the best for last in his final season with the Red Deer Rebels.

In his fifth year with the team, the 21-year-old Surrey, B.C., native finished with 112 points on the season, which was the most in the Western Hockey League and the fourth-most in franchise history.

“It’s been a super special year,” Bains said at the team’s year-end press conference Friday.

“I’d say it’s the best year I’ve had in my life – definitely in junior hockey. It’s been great. We kind of turned things around since last year. This year, we found a rhythm and became a good, challenging team to play against.”

It was a disappointing end to the season for Red Deer, as the team was swept in four games by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference semifinal. (The Rebels defeated the Brandon Wheat Kings in six games in the first round.)

READ MORE: Red Deer Rebels swept by Edmonton Oil Kings

“Hockey this time of year is different than the regular season. It’s a different game. There’s a lot of important stuff you learn in the playoffs,” Bains said.

“I know we didn’t get what we wanted in this playoff run, but there’s a lot of stuff we learned as a group and I know there are guys that are going to be back fighting for this championship. They’ll have some experience and they’ll have a better run next time.”

Nonetheless, it’s been a season to remember for Bains. On top of leading the WHL in points, the six-foot-one, 184-pound left winger signed an NHL entry-level contract with the Vancouver Canucks this past March.

“Obviously, it’s a big stress when you’re 20, trying to leave the league and you’re not sure what you’re going to do. I’m glad I was able to sign. It’s special that I got that opportunity. It’s exciting, but it’s another step. It’s back to work,” said Bains.

READ MORE: Bains signs NHL deal with Vancouver Canucks

Bains is first player of South Asian descent to win the Bob Clarke Trophy as the WHL’s scoring champion. He’s only the second Rebel to win the trophy. The first was Justin Mapletoft in 2000-01.

Undrafted into the WHL, Bains signed a WHL Standard Player Agreement during the 2017-18 season. He said he “didn’t know what to expect” when he joined the organization as a teenager, but quickly grew to love Red Deer.

“It’s such a special city and team. It’s always going to be part of me. I’m definitely going to be back around and seeing this place because it’s home to me. All of the friends I’ve made here, it’s super special. Being on one team for five years is a long time. I’m really grateful,” said Bains.

The five years he spent in Red Deer were a great learning experience, said Bains.

“I learned a lot of things here and more than just hockey. Becoming smarter, becoming older, becoming wiser and more of a man. That’s kind of a big thing about junior hockey. Growing up and learning while you’re here. Those five years are big years of your life when you’re a teenager growing up and going into your 20s. It’s been a great five years.”

Being a Rebel taught Bains what it means to be in a winning environment, he said.

“This team has really helped me as a player. I wouldn’t say I did this all by myself to be honest. I think the team, the coaches and all the staff helped be get to this point. I really owe it to all of those guys.”

Bains praised both of the coaches he’s had while playing in Red Deer: Brent Sutter and Steve Konowalchuk.

“It’s unbelievable for young teenagers trying to learn how to play the game the right way when you have two guys who have been in the NHL for so many seasons. They’re coaching you, they’re giving you mentorship, and you look up to them and take anything they say and you run with it because they know it all. It’s a great environment we have here in Red Deer.”

Bains finished his career with 209 points in 257 regular season games. He also recorded 10 points in 19 career playoff games – all of those points game in the 10 games he played this year.

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