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Rebels add valuable playoff experience in Latimer’s return

Return of an important veteran
Red Deer Rebels forward Carson Latimer heads toward the net against the Edmonton Oil Kings at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Red Deer Rebels Carson Latimer has missed nearly half of this year’s season but fans can breathe knowing that he’s healthy heading into the WHL playoffs.

After missing nearly two months earlier in the season due to a fractured tibia, Latimer missed over a month after breaking his jaw in practice.

However, he made his second return this season in the final two regular season games last weekend against the Edmonton Oil Kings. The Rebels lost their fourth and fifth straight games but Latimer earned an assist in Saturday’s contest in Red Deer.

He came back at an important time as the Rebels begin their first-round playoff series against the Medicine Hat Tigers this week.

“I feel pretty normal and I feel good. I feel like I’ve got jump to my game. Definitely feeling fresh and ready to go for playoffs which is great,” he said.

“My goal is to be a leader both in the room and on the ice… I think I’m ready to take that step and be a big factor in scoring goals, making plays, but also just being an overall solid presence on the ice.”

Latimer certainly has a great track record of performing well following major injuries in the playoffs. As a member of the Winnipeg Ice last season he went down in February with an MCL injury but returned come playoff time.

He helped lead the Ice to the WHL finals notching six points in 14 playoff games.

“If I’m able to repeat last year it was probably the best hockey I’ve played in my life in that run last year in Winnipeg. That’s my goal again this year with this group,” he said.

“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind year for me but I feel great and ready to go.”

He explained suffering three major injuries within a year has been mentally challenging but felt it’s made him stronger. Not only as a player but as a person in how he’s able to handle these experiences when they don’t go his way.

Latimer’s broken jaw incident happened during practice in February this year when a puck struck him in the face. One might think the recovery would be quite painful but he said it was the opposite.

After a few days of pain, he felt normal. Although, he did have to make a few changes to his diet including foods that are easier to chew. He was also able to stay in shape and continued to skate and train as normal.

“That’s one thing about a jaw is that it doesn’t affect your legs. I was on the ice with [assistant coach Erik Lodge] for a good three weeks before I was able to come back and play. I’m not really coming back too rusty it’s more just getting back into the game flow,” he said.

Rebels interim head coach Dave Struch said this week that Latimer was their best forward during last weekend’s games.

“I think that’s because of the fatigue and the conditioning the other guys have gone through for three weeks. I think he had some energy and he played really well for us,” Struch said.

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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