Ben King’s draft stock rising as points keep coming

Rebels play Edmonton Oil Kings Friday, then host Calgary Hitmen Saturday

There was a lot of video to score over for the Red Deer Rebels after Wednesday’s loss.

The team usually hits the ice around 2 p.m., for practice most weekdays but was still locked deep in the bowels of the Centrium late into the afternoon. They were inevitably going over some of the many issues that led to an unfortunate but deserved 7-6 loss against the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Rebels centre Ben King said it was a productive day and he thinks the team can take away a lot from the latest loss.

“For parts of the game, we were really good and playing how we should,” said King, who had four points in the loss.

“Parts we were bad in our d-zone, bad turnovers and bad dumps and it really cost us in the long run. We gotta watch those and just be better in the future.”

The loss aside, Red Deer can take a little bit of solace in the fact they’ve scored 17 goals in the last four games, with wins in two of those.

King for his own efforts, has been on what the kids would call a heater lately. Now up to 0.78 points per game this season, the 17-year-old centre has 11 points in his last eight games and seven in his previous four.

Some of that is luck, according to King and part is continued chemistry with Rebels’ leading point producer, Arshdeep Bains.

“I’ve just been moving my feet and playing my game, I think I’ve been starting to click with Bains and Hausinger and we’re starting to become a pretty good line, for me it’s just getting that confidence back and clicking with my linemates,” said King, who has 33 points in 48 games with Red Deer.

Since King arrived in Red Deer on Nov. 8 from the Swift Current Broncos, he’s mostly been paired with his fellow British Columbian. Of late, the duo’s connection has shone brightly, including in a four-point effort for King Wednesday’s loss. King has four goals in the last four games, while Bains has six assists.

“He’s an unbelievably skilled player and he sees the ice well. I really enjoy playing with him and finally, we’re clicking and it took a little while. Hopefully, finishing off the year and the year after, we can just continue that and get better and better each and every game,” added King.

The Vernon, B.C., product was recently ranked 151st among North American prospects on the NHL Central Scouting Midterm rankings but isn’t taking too much stock in any of that. Especially, because he’s confident if he plays his game, teams will take notice.

“Everyone says points matter, but I think in the long run, me being a big centre, it’s not all about points,” he said.

“It’s about the 200-foot, two-way game. Points are nice, but if I can be good in the D-zone and make every player around me better, I think scouts see that. That’s just what I’m trying to do and points will come.”

A hulking centre who can skate and win faceoffs, after all, is a dime a dozen at the next level. The six-foot-two, 194-pound centre-iceman is also operating at 49.6 per cent in the faceoff circle this season. He’s ever trying to improve that aspect of his game, from practice to studying tendencies of his opponents, he knows that could be a ticket down the line to pro hockey.

“I think that’s the first stat I look at after the game, how was I on draws, it’s huge for me,” said King, while pointing to strong NHL centres like Sidney Crosby and Patrice Bergeron as good examples of what he strives for.

“You don’t really see that start in Bantam and Midget, so now seeing that you really take pride in it. You can realize, oh I had an off game or I was really good and it just helps to see that.”

The Rebels will have back-to-back tough Central Division matchups this weekend, traveling to Edmonton to take on the Oil Kings Friday before hosting the Calgary Hitmen Saturday.

King said the club is focused on battling a tough Edmonton squad Friday and not looking too far ahead to the Hitmen club that has had their number over the last few weeks.

“(Edmonton) is second in the league standings wise, they have a ton of depth and we just need everyone going and playing our game,” he said.

“We have to outwork them for sure, because they have lots of skill that we might not be able to match. If we play good defensively, we’ve got chance.”

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