Barring an injury or another unforeseen circumstance, Darcy Kuemper will be the Red Deer Rebels No. 1 goaltender during the 2009-10 Western Hockey League season.
However, Kraymer Barnstable could at least provide the Rebels with some Western Hockey League experience at the back-up position. Barnstable, 19, was expected to register for the Rebels training camp today and along with Kuemper and the team’s No. 2 man for the second half of last season, 17-year-old Cam Gorchynski, will man the pipes during the main camp sessions.
Barnstable was selected by Vancouver in the ninth round of the 2005 WHL bantam draft and played 14 games with the Giants in the 2007-08 campaign, posting a goals-against average of 2.45 and an .886 save percentage in 14 games. But he had little chance of gaining the starters job with Tyson Sexsmith locked into the position, and was eventually released.
“He kind of got stuck behind Sexsmith and because they were close to the same age (Sexsmtih is 20 this year), it didn’t’ really work out for him there,” Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin said Friday. “Kraymer ended up in tier 2 and had a good year last year. He has some experience and will play some exhibition games for us and will push for a spot.”
Barnstable suited up with the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Junior League last season and recorded a 4.17 GAA and .892 save percentage for a non-playoff team.
With Kuemper slated to attend the camp of the Minnesota Wild next month, Barnstable will see his share of action in the Rebels’ WHL preseason games.
“We think he can push for a spot,” said Wallin. “He’s going to push ‘Gorch’ (Gorchynski) for that back-up position and if Barnstable plays well and we feel that ‘Gorch’ needs more work and needs to play more, then Kraymer gives us an option. He (Barnstable) wants to play and he’s a terrific kid.”
Meanwhile, camp invitee Tyler Skauge also brings some WHL and junior A experience. The 19-year-old forward scored once and added three assists in 52 games with the Everett Silvertips in 2007-08 and last season notched seven goals and seven helpers — along with 113 minutes in penalties — in 32 games with the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL.
“I saw Tyler play as a bantam and he was a good one,” said Wallin. “He’s a guy who has some experience in our league, a player who had a bit of a falling out with Everett and played tier 2 last year.
“Again, he’s an experienced guy who we want to come in and push and challenge the returning guys. He’s a player who has some ability and brings an element of toughness as well. He’s a guy who we think will legitimately push for a spot.”
Red Deer’s Mitch Kaufmann also has junior A experience after suiting up as a defenceman with the AJHL champion Grande Prairie Storm last winter, as does Innisfail native Nick Bell, who manned a blueline spot with the Okotoks Oilers of the AJHL last season. Lethbridge product Brad Deagle, who along with Bell is a front-runner for regular employment with the Rebels this season, played defence with Brooks of the AJHL in 2008-09.
Along with Kaufmann, defencemen Luke Madill and Kirstin Odendaal, forward Tanner Dunkle and netminder Brenden Mandrusiak are the other Red Deer products expected to check into the Rebels’ rookie and main camps today at the Centrium.
Rookie camp sessions are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. both Sunday and Monday, with the main camp players on the ice from 10:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. and 4:45 to 6:45 p.m. both days.
On Tuesday, the rookies will scrimmage from 8:30 to 10 a.m., and the main camp participants will be on the ice from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Players competing in Wednesday’s 7 p.m. McDonald’s Black and White game will scrimmage from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The Rebels first preseason game is Aug. 29 versus the Moose Jaw Warriors. The contest, to be played in St. Albert, is part of the Edmonton Oil Kings tournament.
Red Deer’s other exhibition outings are Sept. 2 against the Hitmen at Calgary’s Centennial Arena, Sept. 4 and 5 against the Oil Kings in Stettler and Leduc, and Sept. 11 and 12 versus the Kootenay Ice and Hitmen at Innisfail and Lacombe.
The Rebels will host the Hitmen in the Red Deer Advocate regular-season home opener Sept. 18 at 7:30 p.m.