Hurricanes 4 Rebels 3 (preseason)
Jhett Larson is used to being underestimated and he’s learned to take pride in it.
The five-foot-eight, 169-pound winger may be the smallest player on the Rebels roster but he seems to always find a way to make a difference.
“For me, if you have speed and the lower body strength, I feel like I can really still use my body to my advantage,” said the 17-year-old forward.
Larson wasn’t able to find the scoresheet Friday, as the Rebels fell 4-3 to the Lethbridge Hurricanes in Lethbridge. He had two shots on goal and won six faceoffs, all a part of his versatile style of play.
An unassuming teen from small-town Saskatchewan, Larson prefers to let his play do the talking. He played 16 games for the Rebels in the pandemic shortened season last year and looks like a lock for a roster spot in the 2021-22 Rebels roster.
His youthful exuberance and ability to play all over the ice has new Rebels coach Steve Konowalchuk excited about the future.
“Good work ethic. Good skill level and brings energy. He’s a guy that’s going to be able to be versatile, play different roles. Centre to wing, nice young player,” he said.
Even with the skill he brings, Larson carries an energy on the ice that’s different from a lot of players. Konowalchuk likes the idea of whatever trio Larson ends up with, as an energy line this season.
“Brings energy that line, he’s played with (Carter Anderson) and (Dallon Melin) at times. With Larson, it’s an energy-type line and could become a line, that whoever he’s with that the other teams don’t want to play against,” he said.
“They’re just quick and relentless and play a smart game.”
As a 16-year-old in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA League, with the Notre Dame Hounds, Larson put up 14 goals and 23 assists in 40 games. While his energy provides a lot to like now, his ability to score as an undersized forward could very well develop down the line.
“He has to build his strength so he gets quicker. He’s already a quick kid but as he gets older he has to become even faster. To do that, now he’s one step ahead on getting loose pucks so he can be in and out of battles a little more,” said Konowalchuk.
“I think it comes naturally, but the relentlessness, tenacity and I think that’s a part of his makeup anyway, but that will continue to improve.
“The details and the hockey sense part of the game, being a smart player and being able to get quicker on reads will also help make his size less of a disadvantage.”
Kai Uchacz scored his third goal of the preseason Friday, Arjun Bawa notched his first of exhibition play and Carter Anderson added a tally on the power play early in the third. Defenceman Matteo Fabrizzi also picked up his first point as Rebel with an assist in the first period.
Chase Coward stopped 18 shots in the loss for Red Deer.
The Rebels host the Hurricanes in their final preseason game on Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the Centrium.