Red Deer Rebels goalie Chase Wutzke hugs defenceman Christoffer Sedoff after an 8-6 win over the Prince Albert Raiders on Wednesday in Prince Albert. Wutzke, 15, made 35 saves Wednesday to pick up his second career WHL victory. He is the youngest goalie in the internet era to win a WHL game. (Photo by MARK PETERSON/Prince Albert Raiders)

Red Deer Rebels goalie Chase Wutzke hugs defenceman Christoffer Sedoff after an 8-6 win over the Prince Albert Raiders on Wednesday in Prince Albert. Wutzke, 15, made 35 saves Wednesday to pick up his second career WHL victory. He is the youngest goalie in the internet era to win a WHL game. (Photo by MARK PETERSON/Prince Albert Raiders)

Legend of Red Deer Rebels’ Chase Wutzke grows, Formanek to join team next week

With the WHL trade deadline set for Jan. 17, the Red Deer Rebels have upgraded their lineup without losing any assets.

The team announced Wednesday that Frantisek Formanek of Czechia, the team’s 14th overall selection in the 2021 CHL Import Draft last summer, will join the team in the new year.

Formanek, 17, has 23 points in 23 games in the Czech U20 league with HC Dynamo Pardubice this season. Rebels associate GM Shaun Sutter said that Formanek was only recently released by his club team and allowed to come over to join the Rebels.

“We’ve been patiently waiting for him. We picked him where we did for a reason. Frantisek has always wanted to come,” Sutter said.

“He was in a situation where… depending on where they were at in the standings in the Czech junior league, teams could be relegated and there are financial considerations if they advance… the team wanted to be in a certain spot before they allowed him to leave.”

The five-foot-nine, 190-pound left-shot, right winger will help the Rebels depth at forward, which has been tested with injuries to Ethan Rowland, Josh Medernach and most recently Kai Uchacz.

“He brings a lot of enthusiasm and energy with the way he plays and how his motor is, you can never have enough of that,” Sutter said.

“We’ve had success with not having star players compared to Edmonton and Winnipeg, where we’ve scored by committee. Now that we’ve had some injuries, it’ll be good to put another player in the mix.”

Rebels owner, president and GM Brent Sutter picked up Formanek from the airport on Thursday and he should be ready for Jan. 7, when the Rebels take on the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Even with their depth being tested, the Rebels have gutted out a pair of wins this week. First, winning 7-6 in a shootout Tuesday and following that up with a shoot out of sorts in an 8-6 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders Wednesday– the highest-scoring game in the WHL to date this season.

Both those wins came in part thanks to the heroics of 15-year-old goalie Chase Wutzke, who was thrust into duty after both Red Deer Rebel regular goaltenders were unavailable this week. Wutzke was the youngest goalie in the internet era to win a WHL game.

“I think anytime you put a young player in, you want them to do well and you hope they do well,” Sutter said.

“It’s as much as them coming in and getting some experience. When it’s a goalie it’s a little bit different. Everything is magnified. The end result was wins, so that’s awesome and it’s been a great experience for him.”

Wutzke, a Saskatchewan native was drafted 40th overall in the 2022 WHL Prospects draft earlier this month and in Tuesday’s win, stopped 12 of 15 shots in relief of Justen Maric, as well as three of four in the shootout to pick up his first career victory. In his first career start the following night in Prince Albert, he made 35 saves on 41 shots to earn his second victory.

“He grows on you so much that you want to give him a chance. Obviously, he’s a young guy but part of it is his personality and how he carries himself. You really want to give him a chance,” Sutter said.

Ahead of Friday, the Rebels are 8-1-0-1 in their last 10 games. They’ll cap off 2021 on Friday night against the Brandon Wheat Kings, before returning home to Red Deer. The Rebels will have a seven-day break before their next game on Jan. 7 against the Edmonton Oil Kings.



byron.hackett@reddeeradvocate.com

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