The Red Deer Rebels have already secured a spot in the upcoming Western Hockey League playoffs but that doesn’t mean they can take their foot off the gas.
With only four games remaining they’ll need to be at the top of their game heading into the postseason. If the last two games are any indication they’ll be well on their way.
Last week Red Deer played back-to-back games against the Calgary Hitmen losing the first game 4-3 in overtime on Friday. The Rebels rebounded at the Saddledome on Saturday blowing out the Hitmen 9-0.
“I think the team is cranking it up for playoff time,” said Rebels forward Kai Uchacz. “We’re really focusing on preparing ourselves as a team to be ready for that first game in the first round.”
That preparation entails a lot of hard work but also making sure they’re prepared physically in the gym and at practice but also mentally making sure they’re focused on the task at hand.
“For the confidence of the group that’ll be huge if we can win the next four and go into playoffs with a good taste in our mouths,” he said.
First up is a pair of games this weekend against the Swift Current Broncos. They’ll play on Friday and Saturday both games at the Peavey Mart Centrium at 7 p.m. The Broncos are playing for their playoff lives sitting in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Calgary Hitmen are just two points ahead of Swift Current in the final playoff spot so there’s no question the Broncos will be playing with some extra motivation.
Uchacz explained playing the Broncos will be a good test for them ahead of the playoffs, especially as a potential first-round matchup.
“We expect a really good couple of games out of them and for ourselves, it’s good preparation to be ready for a good playoff test,” he added.
Red Deer has plenty of playoff experience from their veteran players from last year’s team who made it to the second round. Some of the players include Uchacz, Jayden Grubbe, Ben King, Kalan Lind, Jace Isley, and many more.
Uchacz said the veterans hope to pass on some of that wisdom before the postseason begins.
“The experience will help and for us last year losing out in the second round is something we remembered coming into the start of the season,” Uchacz said.
“As a group, we definitely wanted to make it past that round so we’re hoping for a long playoff run this year.
“The intensity and the physicality definitely rise up. I think the playoffs suit our style of game. All year we try to play physical and in-your-face so going into it we’re going to play the same way we have all year and raise it to another level.”