Down to the final day at Red Deer Rebels training camp, there’s still a free-for-all in the crease.
Four goalies have battled through six days of intense workouts and scrimmages looking to earn one of two jobs with the big club come September 23.
“That’s what we want,” GM/head coach Brent Sutter said at the start of training camp. “We think that position will sort itself through time. Both (Riley Lamb and Lasse Petersen) are solid goalies. They both had their moments and had ups-and-downs last year and when you look back at it maybe it was good for them to go through that. It makes them mentally stronger.”
They will have several more chances to showcase their skills, including exhibition play and the Black and White Game Wednesday night at the Centrium.
Riley Lamb leads the pack, he helped navigate the Rebels to Game 7 against the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference quarter-final last year.
It is likely the 19-year-old will be the opening night starter for Red Deer, considering he filled that role last season.
His platoon mate for much of 2016-2017 was Lasse Petersen, as the duo essentially split games in the second half last year until the playoffs.
Petersen entered training camp in an uncomfortable role as a 20-year-old who might serve as a backup, but he’s embraced the challenge and has been eager to prove that he can start in the WHL.
“I just came in here with the goal of maybe trying to surprise somebody and turn some heads. I know we have three other sharp goalies here, I really want to state my case to stay,” he said.
The danish netminder played solid when called upon by Red Deer last year, boasting a 3.19 goals against average and a .896 save percentage. He knows his past performance doesn’t buy him any favours with the Rebels, but after some hard work this offseason, he’s ready to take on whatever lays ahead.
“Just have to go out there and do my best, don’t take anything for granted while I’m here,” he said. ”Whatever happens, happens for a reason. My goal is to stay here. You never know, as a 20-year-old it’s tough in this league. You want to be a guy that people depend on, so that is definitely my goal for this season.”
Ethan Anders is the new kid on the block, a Regina native who played last season with the Tisdale Trojans of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA League. Last season, he was listed by the Rebels in the winter and his play started to take off from there.
He had a fantastic regular season in Tisdale with a 2.48 goals against average and .922 saver percentage. He then led his team to the league final with a 1.75 GAA and .936 save percentage in nine playoff games.
“I started off the year not knowing how it was going to go and then I had a pretty good year and it gave me some confidence going into these camps,” he said.
Anders, entering his 17-year-old season said he’s learned a lot this week from the two older netminders and in his first WHL main camp, is just taking in the experience. That includes talking to a CCM representative about new equipment, a highlight of camp for the young goalie.
“Camp has been good, a lot of ice times but it’s been good so far. I’m just taking it with open arms and seeing how it goes,” he said.
“Me and Riley (Lamb) have had some pretty good talks about everything. He’s been a good mentor for me so far.”
There’s also Byron Fancy, a 16-year-old who played the majority of last season with Lethbridge in the Alberta Midget AAA league, but did spend most of December with the Rebels filling in for Petersen who was playing for Denmark at the world juniors. Fancy will likely head back to midget where he can start and continue to work on his game.
With just under a month until the WHL season gets underway, the situation in the Red Deer Rebels net is a long way from being decided.
Puck drop for the Black and White game goes at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Centrium.