Red Deer Rebels forward Mason McCarty is the Rebels leading scorer with 71 points in 67 games. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Rebels forward Mason McCarty relishes chance to feel playoff pressure

Rebels and Hurricanes square off Wednesday in likely playoff preview

Red Deer Rebels Mason McCarty couldn’t help but crack a smile about his good fortune.

Finally, after 223 regular season WHL games, the 21-year-old will play in his first post-season game later this month.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound winger from Blackie, Alta. was originally drafted by the Rebels all the way back in 2012, but spent the majority of his four-year WHL career with the Saskatoon Blades.

McCarty was reacquired by the Rebels in his overage season at the WHL Bantam Draft in the summer with one goal in mind: make the playoffs.

When the horn sounded Saturday after a 5-2 win over the Medicine Hat Tigers, the tumultuous trip through his WHL career had finally arrived in the promised land.

The Rebels had clinched a playoff spot, something even the players doubted in January.

“I know the Rebels are expecting to win and make playoffs and be a competitive team every year. I was looking forward to that. At times it didn’t look too good,” said McCarty, who is enjoying a career year with 37 goals and 71 points in 67 games.

“The boys started to play well and we rallied together and became mentally tough as a team. I’m really happy we made it.”

With one plateau reached, the veteran forward, who also is the Rebels’ goals and points leader, won’t be simply satisfied to wet his appetite in the playoffs.

He’s focused on a sustained run, one that gets back on track with an intriguing matchup with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Red Deer notched their first regular-season win in nearly three years at Lethbridge last Friday and will face them Wednesday in what will likely be a first-round playoff preview.

“Just have to play hard, doesn’t matter who you’re playing. They’ll probably be our first round opponent but you have to play every game like it’s the same,” McCarty said.

“Just have to go out and go in with the same intensity and hard work ethic. Ready to battle and play smart and hard.”

If the two rivals do square off in the first round, it will be a rematch of the 2017 WHL Eastern Conference quarter-final that saw the Hurricanes pull out a gut-wrenching Game 7 victory over the Rebels. Red Deer led the series three games to one but couldn’t close it out.

In their final three games and into the playoffs this year, Red Deer will lean heavily on the trio of McCarty, Brandon Hagel and Kristian Reichel.

The Rebels top forward line in the last seven games have combined for 14 of the team’s 24 goals and have 29 points over that stretch. In the last three games alone, they have 17 points.

“We each bring something different, but similar at the same time. We each contribute in our own way. We have a lot of good chemistry and we’re good buddies off the ice, too,” McCarty said.

The last meeting was the only time the Rebels beat the Hurricanes this season and Wednesday’s final regular season contest between the two clubs will be a good measuring stick for Red Deer.

Puck drop is 7 p.m. at the Centrium.



Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Guards injured, money stolen, during overnight blast at Edmonton bank

EDMONTON — Two security guards have been injured in an explosion that… Continue reading

Pot stores on agenda at Toronto city council after two municipalities opt out

TORONTO — Councillors in Toronto are set to debate whether to allow… Continue reading

Police believe body found near Mexican resort is missing Quebec woman

MONTREAL — Mexican authorities have found the body of a woman near… Continue reading

Experts struggle with ethics of assisted death for people with mental disorders

OTTAWA — Experts the federal government charged with looking at whether people… Continue reading

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

Sex assault trial for former gymnastics coach resumes in Sarnia

SARNIA, Ont. — The trial of a former high-ranking gymnastics coach accused… Continue reading

Victims of former ski coach Charest say they were ‘sacrificed’ by Alpine Canada

MONTREAL — A lawsuit filed Wednesday against Alpine Canada by three victims… Continue reading

Emily Blunt on the ‘daunting’ task of playing Mary Poppins

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Emily Blunt loves a challenge, and in the… Continue reading

Tommy Chong says Canada’s weed legalization has kept ‘underground market alive’

TORONTO — Tommy Chong has a pass, man. While some Canadians who… Continue reading

Apple deepens Austin ties, expands operations east and west

AUSTIN, Texas — Apple will build a $1 billion campus in Austin,… Continue reading

Trump comments upend U.S. approach to Huawei, trade talks

WASHINGTON — The United States and China have taken pains this week… Continue reading

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

Dumba scores twice, Wild rout Canadiens 7-1

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Reeling and banged up, the Minnesota Wild were… Continue reading

Most Read