There are few defencemen who have the offensive abilities of Cale Makar.
And not that the Red Deer Rebels U15AAA defenceman Dallin Antos can be compared to the Colorado Avalanche’s superstar, he has one thing in common – skating.
“He is the best skating defenceman I’ve ever had,” said Rebels head coach Justin Jarmolicz, who has had a number of rearguards selected in the WHL Draft over the years.
“Not many guys can pull away from him. He’s quick … zero to 60 in no time.”
Dallin, whose favourite player is Makar, knows he still has things to work on but also knows “skating is the one thing I’m good at.”
The 14-year-old Red Deer native has also shown in his second year with the Rebels an offensive touch with six goals and 13 assists in 17 games.
Last year he had seven goals and 12 helpers in 34 starts.
“I started last year as a stay-at-home defenceman but this year the team needs me to be more offensive-minded,” said the five-foot-11, 155-pound Hunting Hills Grade 9 student.
“Being able to play both ways really helps my game.”
“He started last year really defensive-minded but turned a little more toward the offensive side toward the end of the year,” noted Jarmolicz. “This year we have him jumping into the play in every situation, especially as well as he skates. He can really distribute the puck and is a threat off the rush.”
Dallin has always played defence and doesn’t expect to change.
“I’ve never wanted to play forward I enjoy the defensive side and blocking shots,” he said with a laugh.
Antos isn’t one to worry about who his partner is on the blueline.
“Last year we had seven defencemen and I was like a rover and played with everyone,” he said. “This year I play with Cooper Hartsook when everyone is there but we’ve had one guy out with an injury and so I’ve been moving around. But I don’t mind, it’s good to play with different guys.”
Jarmolicz isn’t afraid to move him around.
“It doesn’t matter who he plays with, his game doesn’t change.”
Antos grew up playing in the Red Deer Minor system, but it wasn’t until last season that he believed he could make something of himself in the game.
“When I made AAA last year I started to take it seriously and felt I had a chance to go somewhere,” he added.
Dallin is expected to play in the Alberta Cup and be selected in the WHL Draft.
“That’s my goal,” he said.
“If he really gets after it after Christmas and buckles down and plays the defensive style really, really well to go along with his offence he already shows I’m confident he’ll be picked higher in the WHL Draft than expected,” said Jarmolicz. “As for the Alberta Cup he’ll be there for sure.”
Dallin has always wanted to play in the WHL and hopefully play for the U18AAA Optimist Chiefs next season.
“That’s my goal right now … I want to stay at home and play,” he said.
The Rebels are one of the top teams in the U15AAA League with a 13-5 record. They’ve won their last eight league games in a row and are undefeated in nine. They also threw in three wins in the Calgary tournament.
“We’ve really started to go as of late,” said Jarmolicz. “All the hard work is paying off. We’re undefeated in 12 games and it’s a confident bunch.”
The Rebels are on their Christmas break, something Dallin is looking forward to.
“We had a tough start to the season, but have come on of late and been playing well,” he said. “This break comes at the right time, It gives us time to refresh for the second half of the season.”
As for Dallin he will continue to work on his game.
“I need to add a bit more strength, especially my upper body,” he said. “I worked a lot on my legs during the summer.”
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org