Just a year removed from his first full season with the Red Deer Rebels, defenceman Hunter Mayo has already proved he’s taken the next step in his game offensively.
Last season, the Martensville, Sask. product closed out the year with three goals and 17 points but in just two games against the Edmonton Oil Kings to begin the 2022-23 WHL campaign Mayo has already tied his goal total.
In the season opener in Edmonton, last Friday the 18-year-old scored two and added his third during the home opener at the Peavey Mart Centrium Saturday evening.
Mayo said the squad has formed good chemistry since the regular season began and is happy with how the team has shot out of the gate defeating the defending WHL Champions in back-to-back games.
“I think for me just sticking to my game and keeping things simple and the points have just been coming,” Mayo explained.
Coming into this season Mayo was hoping to take the staples of his game and excel at them.
“I think that’s what I’ve done and I’ve worked hard in the offseason to come ready and prepared for this season,” he said adding he improved his all-round game and his speed.
In the summer months, Mayo heads back to the land of the living skies in Saskatchewan where he worked out with teammate Jhett Larson, who is also having a great start to the season.
Both Larson and Mayo are top five in the WHL scoring race after the first week. Larson is in second with three goals for five points and Mayo is in fifth. The Rebels are currently the only team with two players in the top five, which speaks to their depth thus far.
“He’s played really well. He worked hard with me in the offseason and we’ve just been pushing each other so it’s been good,” Mayo explained. “Just battling in practices and stuff but we skated the whole summer together too and just pushing each other on the ice and off the ice really helped us.”
The Rebels have a potent blueline this season with the acquisitions of Mats Lindgren and Tanner Brown via trade in the offseason and the return of Christoffer Sedoff and Jace Weir from NHL training camps. Matteo Fabrizi and Mayo are looking to impress in their young careers and Red Deer added a couple of youngsters with rookies Quentin Bourne and Vojtech Port.
This is also a big year for Mayo on an individual basis as he is eligible for this year’s NHL Entry Draft and hopes to continue improving throughout the year.
Assistant general manager Shaun Sutter said what Mayo is doing on the ice this season thus far is what he was doing as a minor hockey player with the Martensville Marauders and the Saskatoon Blazers. Mayo’s best statistical season in his U18 AAA days came in the 2019-20 season where he contributed 13 goals and 19 assists for 32 points. Mayo was selected 23rd overall in the second round of the 2019 WHL Prospects Draft.
The Rebels moved up in the draft to select him via trade with the Brandon Wheat Kings after Sutter said they knew another team was going to select him at the beginning of the second round.
“We drafted Hunter before Jace [Weir] at that time because of Hunter how he’s looking now in our league that’s how he looked in minor hockey. Doing that in midget it eventually comes into play at our level when these guys start maturing,” Sutter said.
Sutter added Mayo has always been a skilled player with a hard shot and has had the pedigree to be successful in the WHL.
“There’s some learning and some developing needed before they ascend to what their pedigree had shown. Hunter was a really strong kid you know he adjusted his training to gain speed and kind of lean out and I think we really see that this year.
“He put in a huge summer and really worked his a— off and it’s great to see him get rewarded for that.”