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Former Red Deer Rebel Joel Sexsmith soaking in experience of playing for hometown Golden Bears

Sexsmith is in his first year of eligibility
Former Red Deer Rebels defenceman Joel Sexsmith made the decision to play for the University of Alberta Golden Bears this season. (Photo by MacEwan Griffins)

Former Red Deer Rebel Joel Sexsmith has settled right in at the University of Edmonton.

After playing the last three years for the Rebels, the defenceman returned to his hometown to play for the Golden Bears to further develop his game.

Despite not seeing the ice too much this season, he said it’s been a thrill to be a part of the organization and is excited to see what’s in store moving forward.

In nine games this year the 20-year-old Edmonton native has one goal and five assists for six points.

“I was able to get in for quite a few of the games in the first half and I’d like to continue to just be more consistent,” he said.

“It’s really helped my confidence with being in a bigger role even when I am in the lineup… I’m not as worried about being in the lineup as most would think I’m quite a bit younger than most of these guys and it’s more so a learning experience.

“Once those guys leave hopefully I can step in and do what’s asked and help this team win a national championship.”

The Golden Bears are 22-9-0 this season and since returning from Christmas break are 3-2. Sexsmith hopes to get into more games next season and has worked at getting back into the groove in the second half.

“It’s like being a 15-year-old on a team with a bunch of 19 and 20-year-olds you just have to do what’s asked of you and be the best you can be,” he said. “When it’s my time, it will be my time, and I’ll make the most of it.”

Standing at six-foot-one and 192 pounds he explained his identity on the ice has always been a shutdown, physical defensive defenceman. This year he’s found a more offensive touch after taking advantage of opportunities.

After playing three seasons for the Rebels beginning in 2019 he accumulated two goals and 12 assists for 14 points. Sexsmith had one more year of eligibility to play in the Western Hockey League but decided to move on.

He explained last season he wasn’t in the lineup last year as much as in previous years which was frustrating. He felt it wasn’t plausible to rejoin the lineup with the 20-year-olds on the team this season and was ready to start a new path.

“The opportunity presented itself late in the summer and I couldn’t say no. I’ve got the five years of eligibility and I plan on being there as long as I can be,” he said.

“It was just an awesome opportunity. I knew a lot of the guys within the program and I knew it was a great group of guys.”

Despite the move, he will always remember his time in Red Deer and explained he did everything he could to help the Rebels.

“I speak to my billet family that I was with last year as much as I can and I still visit Red Deer. I like to keep tabs on the guys I spent three years with there like Jayden [Grubbe], Ben [King], Jace [Isley], and even go out to a game or two when I can,” he said.

“I will always be a Rebel… I’m happy the Rebels are doing well but my focus now is with the Bears. I’m trying to enjoy it while it lasts because it’s been a really awesome experience so far.”

Sexsmith hopes to play professionally one day whether in the NHL or somewhere overseas but also plans to finish his degree at the U of A.

“Right now I’m focused on being a Golden Bear and I don’t see a huge rush to make any decisions… It doesn’t matter how you get there it’s just a matter of enjoying every moment while you can and when the opportunity comes that’s when you decide.”

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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