Former Red Deer Rebels defenceman Jackson Van de Leest carried the puck out from behind the Rebels net against the Edmonton Oil Kings last season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Former Red Deer Rebels defenceman Jackson Van de Leest carried the puck out from behind the Rebels net against the Edmonton Oil Kings last season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Former Red Deer Rebels commit to playing university hockey in Dalhousie next season

Their first game will be on Oct. 5 in Dalhousie

A pair of former Red Deer Rebels will be making their way out east after committing to the Dalhousie Tigers for the 2022-23 season.

Jackson van de Leest and Zak Smith will be playing for the Tigers next season and attending Dalhousie University.

“I am thrilled to be coming to Halifax and Dalhousie,” said van de Leest in a media release. “I’m excited to bring my hardworking and physical game to the Tigers and can’t wait to become a part of the Dal campus.”

Van de Leest was traded to the Rebels in the 2021-22 season from the Calgary Hitmen and in the remaining 34 games left in the WHL season, the defenceman contributed 10 points.

While in Calgary he played four seasons and served as an assistant captain in the 2020-21 season before being upgraded to captain the following season before being traded. He played 221 games with the Hitmen and scored 78 points and accumulated 280 penalty minutes.

While playing for Dalhousie University he will be studying management.

Smith most recently played for the Flin Flon Bombers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League this season where he was their scoring leader tucking in 20 goals and 28 assists in 50 games.

Before this, the 6’4” forward played for the Red Deer Rebels where he played four seasons and scored 26 goals. He was named assistant captain during the 2020-21 season and the most underrated player in the 2019-20 season.

“I am very excited to be moving to Halifax to be furthering my studies and my hockey career with the Dalhousie Tigers,” Smith said.

He will be working on finishing his bachelor of arts while playing for the Tigers.

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