Captain Jayden Grubbe just missed the net on a breakaway chance against the Calgary Hitmen at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Captain Jayden Grubbe just missed the net on a breakaway chance against the Calgary Hitmen at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Captain Jayden Grubbe and veteran players leading the way for undefeated Rebels

This year’s Red Deer Rebels team has accomplished a feat no other squad in franchise history has accomplished– eight wins through the first eight games.

Wednesday night they defeated the Calgary Hitmen at home to break a record set in the 2000-01 season when the Rebels began the campaign 7-0.

That team went on to win the Memorial Cup.

Rebels forward and captain Jayden Grubbe explained despite the strong start to the season, it’s important for the team to focus on each game.

“For us, we’re trying to take it day by day and each game one at a time. That’s the biggest thing for us so we’re not getting ahead of ourselves. We’re just looking at breaking it down each day and getting better,” Grubbe said.

“It’s definitely nice when you’re winning and it’s a little more fun when you’re coming to the rink when everyone’s in a good mood and winning. I think for us there’s still a couple [undefeated] teams left so we’re just trying to be the last team standing. That’s our goal right now.”

For now, there are two other teams who remain undefeated the Seattle Thunderbirds and the Portland Winterhawks, both are in the Western Conference.

In five of the Rebels’ eight games so far the Rebels have won because of a late-game push in the third period. The Rebels haven’t necessarily been behind in those situations but have scored to put themselves on top in the final frame, which seems to be a good sign early on.

Who has been in the driver’s seat when that time comes? The answer can’t be designated to an individual player but from what has been on display the veteran players have stepped up.

Jace Isley, Jayden Grubbe, Kai Uchacz, Jhett Larson, Hunter Mayo, and Ben King are just some of the players who have given the Rebels a boost on the scoresheet late in the game when they’ve needed it. Defenceman Christoffer Sedoff has also provided six assists since his return to Red Deer.

“Anytime you can get a guy like Kinger and Seds back it helps a lot and they show how it’s on and off the ice. For those younger guys to look up to them and everyone else to follow along so you know it’s huge,” he added.

The team camaraderie has certainly also helped along the way. Grubbe explained the team is a close group and has a lot to do with many players returning from last year’s squad.

“It helps to have a good group of guys from last year’s team,” he said. “We had a good team last year that we may have surprised a few people and went on a good run there… I think everyone coming back from last year you know definitely helps and then new guys coming in fit in well.”

Grubbe was announced as the captain in March of last year and said his experience leading this team has been great. It has made his job easier with the team playing at an elite level.

“You can see it in the room everyone’s bought into their role and they know what their job is. It makes it easier on myself and it’s fun to lead a group of guys like that,” he added.

The Calgary product was drafted by the New York Rangers 65th overall in round three of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. After a short stint in the Rangers training camp, Grubbe returned to the Rebels at the beginning of October. Since returning Grubbe has been productive averaging at least a point per game with two goals and nine assists for 11 points in six games.

Grubbe explained being on the ice with players of that calibre, especially the players who made it to the NHL Eastern Conference Finals last season, was a great experience.

“They’re a really good team and had a good run last year. Just to see the culture and atmosphere there and how serious those guys are when they get on the ice… It’s something to take away from there and bring back here,” Grubbe said.

The message the Rangers left with him was to continue to improve his game and help lead the Rebels to a championship. Grubbe described himself as a power forward that uses his speed and size to his advantage. When the time is right he won’t hesitate to defend his teammates on the ice.

“It’s not something I really have to think about. It just comes naturally if the moment comes and that’s what needs to be done,” he said.

The Rebels will play their next game on Friday in Medicine Hat against the Tigers and will return home on Saturday to play the Prince Albert Raiders at 7 p.m.

centralalbertaLocal SportsRebelsRedDeer

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