Finding the joy in Christmas with the Red Deer Rebels

While the Red Deer Rebels rest at home during a break in the WHL schedule, with sugar plum fairies dancing in their heads, and dreams of Christmas cheer away from the Enmax Centrium fill their waking days, they took some time before the layoff to answer the most pressing holiday questions.

For example, in the Christmas classic, The Santa Clause, where Tim Allen’s scrooge-like approach to the jolly season has his son wishing he was spending the season somewhere else, until Allen magically, and accidentally, becomes old Saint Nick. Of course, that prompted the perfect question for the Rebels, in their merry bunch, who would be the best guy to slide down chimney’s, deliver presents, and devour a few Christmas cookies in the process.

Veteran forward Dawson Martin, didn’t hesitate for a second.

“Austin Pratt, you gotta pick the biggest body. He’s gotta fit into the suit right?” Martin pondered.

Fortunately, the Winnipeg, Man., product’s teammates came to the rescue, and reached a semi-consensus on who they thought would play the best Kris Kringle.

“Evan Polei, just because of his beard, and he’s a big boy,” defenceman Austin Strand said.

Fellow defender Josh Mahura also picked Polei.

“Oh, Evan Polei,” forward Austin Pratt said without a shred of doubt in his voice. His confidence, and the fact he’s played the most hockey with Polei this season, clinched the job.

Polei of course, disagrees.

“Hagel,” he said, designating his new linemate for the role.

Easy enough to throw your teammates in a big red suit, and slap a friendly white beard on him, but to more merry matters, like could anyone on the team actually cook a Christmas meal, complete with all the fixings?

“One of the Czech guys, either Mus (Adam Musil) or Spac (Michael Spacek), they might have something funky to put on the table,” Martin said, with a seemingly great understanding that traditional Christmas dinner in the Czech Republic often includes fish soup, and fried carp.

“I don’t know if they’d have any cooking skills. Might have an interesting meal for us.”

Adam Musil, or Mus and his cooking skills, were actually given a vote of confidence from Pratt.

“Adam Musil, I think he’d be the best cook,” Pratt said.

But just as there are countless disagreements about who makes the best stuffing, or the tastiest potatoes at Christmas, there was dissent in the Rebels ranks about their cooking representative.

“Jeff de Wit, he can cook some good meals sometimes for lunch for us,” Mahura chimed in.

Polei also picked six-foot-three centreman and Red Deer native De Wit, so like many Christmas arguments, the Rebels family had to agree to disagree.

One family consensus the Rebels reached was their favourite tradition over the holidays, each carefully explaining the different ways they spend time gathered with relatives during the short break from hockey.

“Probably the Christmas Eve church,” Martin said. “We’re not a religious family, but I like going and singing, and doing all that stuff, it’s a cool feeling in the church, and the Christmas spirit.”

Polei, a spirited competitor on the ice, likes all the family time, but it’s the board games that bring out the best in his family.

“Just spending time with my family. I love everything we do as a family. I love hanging out, talking. Just having a good time, maybe playing some board games,” Polei said.

Which game?

“Probably, Monopoly. It gets heated,” he added.

For Strand, who grows like a weed at six-foot-three, 190-pounds, the food is his favourite.

“Just getting out with the family, big Christmas dinner, with all the cousins and stuff. Big turkey. My auntie brings over half of it and my mom does the other half, makes stuffing, and all that,” he said, simply smiling at the thought of the meal.

From their hockey family to the one at home over the holidays, the Christmas bells are ringing and ready to bring good tidings, and cheer, to Rebels until they return to the ice on Dec. 27.

byron.hackett@bprda.wpengine.com

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