One glance at his statistics would suggest that rookie forward Daulton Siwak has contributed very little to the Red Deer Rebels this season.
But considering that he didn’t celebrate his 16th birthday until Sunday, was still feeling the lingering affects of mononucleosis early in the season and is now looking very much like a player with a bright future, the fact that he has yet to register a point is of little concern to the Rebels coaching staff.
“Daulton has really started to come on of late,” Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin said on Monday.
“The mono he had coming into training camp really set him back and then it took him a while to get going once he was back on the ice.
“It’s tough enough stepping up to this level at his age and playing against older guys. He missed all of training camp and it’s understandable that it took some time for him to get going and get his strength back, but the last couple of weeks we’ve started to see some signs of what he’s capable of.
“He’s getting his feet back under him, he’s playing stronger and more physical and he’s starting to gain some confidence with the puck. He’s progressing nicely and we expect that he’ll be a real good player in our league.”
All along, Siwak has been a picture of patience.
“I was slow getting back from the mono so they (Rebels coaches) just kind of wanted to ease me into the lineup,” said the Olds native, Red Deer’s second-round pick in the 2008 bantam draft.
“Now that I’m back to 100 per cent they’ve been playing me a lot more and I’m getting the odd shift on the second and third lines, which is really good.”
Siwak, a budding power forward, said making the transition from the midget AAA level to the major junior stage has been somewhat smoother than anticipated.
“I’m definitely a lot more comfortable now that I’ve got some games in. It’s been a lot easier going that what I expected,” he said. “Playing a few (WHL) games last year helped that way . . . just getting to know how everything is run at this level.”
Siwak was the top scorer with the midget AAA Red Deer Optimist Rebels last winter with 17 goals and 35 points, and also racked up 83 minutes in penalties in 33 games.
“I’m going to continue to play a physical style and hopefully put up some points to help the team,” said the six-foot, 175-pound winger, who has 17 minutes in penalties in 12 games.
“The points should be coming around any time. I’ve definitely been feeling that way and I’m more comfortable with carrying the puck now. The (scoring) opportunities are there, I just have to put them in.”
Wallin is equally confident that Siwak will start producing offensively in the near future.
“He doesn’t have any points yet but he’s starting to do things consistently,” said the Red Deer bench boss.
“He’s a guy who we think is going to put up numbers, and he’ll do that not only with his skill but his willingness to get in involved and get into the dirty areas. He certainly doesn’t back off. He initiates contact and gets his nose dirty.”
l Rebels defenceman Nick Bell was scheduled to undergo surgery today to repair a fracture of his ankle.
Bell suffered the injury when he was struck by a shot in a 6-3 home-ice loss to the Calgary Hitmen last week and will be unavailable to the team for at least three months.
“The way it looks now, it will be 12 weeks before his ankle can bear weight,” said Wallin.
“That puts us at mid-January, then we’ll have to play it by ear at that point. It will depend on how he recovers from the surgery and how soon he begins rehab.”
Meanwhile, centre Landon Ferraro skated for a third consecutive day on Monday and might be available for weekend home games versus Medicine Hat and Everett. Ferraro has been out since the end of September with a knee injury and has appeared in only five games this season.
Defenceman Alex Petrovic, who has played only two games this fall, is likely two weeks away from returning from a high ankle sprain. The Rebels are looking at Nov. 6 as a possible return date, with the Kootenay Ice at the Centrium that night.