The Red Deer Rebels model the team’s Don Cherry jerseys that they will wear on March 10 against the Medicine Hat Tigers. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Rebels dress up like Don for a day

Red Deer could clinch playoff spot as early as Friday

The Red Deer Rebels will sport a colourful look when they hit the ice for a critical home game on Saturday night against the Medicine Hat Tigers.

The all-important contest, which could be the night the Rebels finally lock down a playoff spot – will also be one where they dress like Don Cherry.

Red Deer will wear their custom plaid suit-like jerseys honouring the Canadian hockey icon, in support of “RE/MAX presents: WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation.”

Nine teams across the league in the month of March are hosting the promotion to help bring awareness to organ donations, and fans will have a chance to bid on the limited-edition jerseys. All of the proceeds go to local chapters of the Kidney Foundation.

The Rebels got to witness opposing jerseys first hand in Medicine Hat last weekend and had an opportunity to check out their own this week.

“They’re pretty cool, we’ve seen the other teams wear them too. It’s always nice doing something for a great cause like that. It’ll be a special night and I think we’ll be going for it too,” Rebels captain Grayson Pawlenchuk said.

“I like it, just like Don Cherry. He always has the different suits on. It’s kinda funny, each team has their own theme going.”

As well as the game-worn uniforms, fans will have the chance to bid on a Don Cherry-autographed jersey.

Also the first 1,000 fans in attendance Saturday will receive a special edition of Don Cherry Bobblehead.

“These themed games will be fun for fans and will help generate support for the Kidney Foundation of Canada,” said Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada in a WHL press release.

Cherry’s son Tim, received a kidney transplant from his older sister Cindy and ever since the hockey commentator has been dedicated to the cause.

Magic number down to four

The Rebels magic number to clinch a playoff spot is four points. With any combination of the Kootenay Ice dropping points and Rebels earning points adding up to four – means Red Deer will officially clinch a playoff spot.

“Knowing we have a chance to clinch, it’s just a hard playoff push,” Pawlenchuk said.

“Every game is like a Game 7 of playoffs, we have to play our best and come ready to play. If we do clinch, our work is still not done, we still need to push either way. It’s building into playoffs.”

Both the Rebels and the Ice play Friday and Saturday. Red Deer will head to Lethbridge Friday, then host the Tigers Saturday. The Ice host the Regina Pats Friday and travel to Edmonton Saturday to take on the Oil Kings.

After back-to-back losses and six goals allowed in each contest, Pawlenchuk said keeping the young roster focused on the task at hand has been a major point of emphasis this week.

“We have to move on from it, take our lessons from it and move on. Can’t sit on it too much. We have a lot of important games that we have to focus on – improve and get better,” Pawlenchuk said.

“For young guys, it was a lesson about how quickly games can change. You have to stay mentally focused for the full 60 or more. Have to stay with your game the whole game.”

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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