Team Black 8 Team White 6
Jesse Wallin suggested last week that the Red Deer Rebels will score goals more easily during the 2009-10 Western Hockey League than was the case last winter.
Based on the Western Hockey League team’s Black and White game on Wednesday evening at the Centrium, the Rebels head coach is coming off as a genuine psychic, not one of those fly-by-night phonies.
However, following the contest that featured 14 goals — including eight by the victorious Team Black — Wallin and a healthy chunk of the 2,000-plus spectators might have been wondering about the Rebels’ puck-stopping abilities.
“There were a few nice goals out there,” Wallin acknowledged.
“Having said that, there were a number that could have been stopped, too. I would have liked to have seen a few more stopped, but there were some things to like out there tonight.”
Indeed, the three-goal performance from Team Black forward and veteran Willie Coetzee, who also added two assists while skating with Landon Ferraro and Jordie Deagle, was eye candy, and promising 18-year-old newcomer Jesse Mireau also impressed with a natural hat trick for Team White.
The fast-paced contest also featured four scraps, two involving Cass Mappin. The winger dropped the gloves with fellow veterans Ferraro and Colin Archer, while two more vets — Cody Esposito and Josh Cowen — squared off and Mireau went toe-to-toe with 16-year-old winger Colten Meaver, who was later reassigned.
Wallin had no problem with the bouts.
“We wanted these guys to compete and play an intense game, so to see them battling like that and getting each other riled up . . . I thought that was good,” he said.
After a relatively mild three-day camp, Mappin was in a nasty mood on Wednesday.
“He seemed to be making a pain of himself, he seemed to have guys after him,” said Wallin.
“It was nice to see him getting involved. He spent the week doing some power skating so we hope that’s something that will help him out. He played well at times tonight and he has to continue to push forward.”
Foot speed has never been a problem with Coetzee, who also showed off his dynamite one-timer on Wednesday.
“The puck seemed to go in every time I shot it,” he said. “Getting to the open spaces was tough because it was kind of scrambly out there, but playing with Landon and Jordie I was able to do that a few times.”
Veteran netminder Darcy Kuemper surrendered four goals for the winning team in the opening period — three by Mireau and another by Cody Esposito — while Brenden Mandrusiak shut out Team Black in the second period and Zach Rakochy allowed goals by Colten Mayor and Cullen Morin, on a penalty shot, in the final frame.
Meanwhile, Coetzee victimized Team White starter Cam Gorchynski for two first-period goals and Brett Miller also beat the 17-year stopper in the middle stanza. Ferraro put one puck past Gorchynski and another by Kraymer Barnstable, who also surrendered goals to Coetzee, Deagle and Marc McCoy.
Mireau, who scored 26 goals and garnered 53 points in 39 regular-season games with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos last winter, certainly helped his cause with his Black and White performance.
“He’s got skill, that’s undeniable,” said Wallin. “He’s going to get a further opportunity here and we’ll see how he does over the exhibition season. He showed his skill all through camp and he’s shown that at the midget level. He can score, you get him around the net and he’s a dangerous player. Now he has to prove that he can skate and compete at this level on a nightly basis.”
Mireau didn’t stand out during the first two days of training camp, but struck for two goals in the Tuesday afternoon scrimmage and then emerged as a sniper 24 hours later.
“I just found my stride here,” he said. “I haven’t been on the ice a lot this summer and it just all came together the last couple of days. I hope I stick around a bit longer. I think I could make a name for myself here and hopefully help this team get to the playoffs.”
Notes: Team Black defenceman Nick Bell suffered a mild ankle sprain in the first period and didn’t return. Meanwhile, Czech rearguard Jindra Barak, who missed camp with flu-like symptoms, played sparingly for Team Black. “I thought he moved the puck well. He’s a decent skater, he seemed strong on his feet,” said Wallin. “He’s lost nine pounds over the last few days so he’s not feeling 100 per cent. All things considered, I thought he was all right.” . . . Meaver was one of 12 players reassigned/released following the game. He was joined by defencemen Channing Bresciani (16), Lucas Grayson (15), Mitch Kaufmann (18), Luke Madill (17) and Kirsten Odendaal (16), 16-year-old goaltenders Mandrusiak and Rakochy, and forwards Tyson McCallum 16, and 15-year-olds McCoy, Joel Hamilton and Chase McMurphy . . The Rebels play their first of seven exhibition games on Saturday against the Moose Jaw Warriors at St. Albert.