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Rebels head to the U.S. for first time in four years

Rebels last visit was in the 2018-19 season
The Red Deer Rebels will visit the United States for the first time since the 2018-19 season beginning this Saturday against Portland. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

It’s been four years since the last time the Red Deer Rebels crossed the border to the U.S.

It was during the 2018-19 season and their first stop on the road trip was in Spokane where they lost 4-3 and none of the current Rebels were on the roster.

However, their road trip took an unexpected turn.

The game against the Silvertips, which was supposed to happen the next evening, was postponed a day later after weather conditions caused road closures.

After the Rebels left Spokane that Tuesday night right after the game they traveled through Kennewick, Washington, and were planning to head up through Portland, but were stopped by a closure in Hood River, Oregon.

The Rebels were forced to get comfortable and they even had some fun and created the hashtag stuck in Hood River.

Current Assistant coach Ryan Colville was on that trip and said it was a unique experience.

“All the passes were closed through the mountains so we took an alternate route all the way down towards Portland. Hood River I think is probably an hour from Portland and we were stopped. We were lucky because we were right near an exit and came out near a Mcdonald’s,” he explained.

The Rebels spent the next 16-20 hours in Hood River and Colville said for most of the day they were thinking about playing the game before it was postponed.

The Rebels spent some time hanging out in a Mcdonald’s and in the local lodge. There wasn’t much to do but Colville said they made the most of it and were even interviewed by a local TV station KOIN.

This time around they’ll head on a five-game road swing beginning on Saturday in Spokane, Wash. against the Chiefs and ending next Saturday, Feb. 11 in Tri-City in a matchup with the Americans.

In between, they’ll also travel to Everett this Sunday as well as Portland and Seattle next Tuesday and Friday.

Forward Ben King, who has been in the Western Hockey League for four seasons, has yet to experience a U.S. road trip in his career.

King was a rookie on the Swift Current Broncos the last time the Rebels entered the U.S.

“This is exciting for me I’ve only been on the B.C. road swing so I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

“It’s going to be a fun trip for everyone. I don’t think anyone on our team has actually gone on U.S. roads, a few guys have played there, but it’ll be a good 12 days as a group to bond.”

The trip will feature multiple tough matchups, three teams of which are top 10 in the overall WHL standings including the Portland Winterhawks, Seattle Thunderbirds, and Tri-City Americans.

“They’re top teams in that division and conference so we’re excited to play them, play our game, and see where it goes,” he said.

“We see a lot online about how they play and the players they have. We’ve just got to go in there and it’s an exciting time for our group.”

Red Deer will have a couple of days off in Seattle while traveling and King said they’ll tour the city and find a few things to do. They’ll also have an unofficial tour guide Kai Uchacz who used to play for the Thunderbirds.

“Other than that just kind of hang out in our hotel rooms with the guys and enjoy the time together,” he added.

Captain Jayden Grubbe explained on most road trips they’ll spend a lot of time together watching hockey or playing cards in the hotel.

“Just talking and hanging out with each other it’s good to get a little closer on these long trips. The long bus trips sometimes get a little boring so we get closer over those long rides,” Grubbe said.

During the 2019-20 season, Grubbe, King, Jace Isley, and Christoffer Sedoff were around when the U.S. teams visited the Peavey Mart Centrium.

“It’ll be good to test ourselves against them and it’s something to look forward to,” Grubbe added.

Red Deer is riding off the momentum of beating Connor Bedard and the Regina Pats 6-5 in overtime Tuesday night. The game will be their last home matchup for two weeks until they return on Feb. 17.

“It was pretty important to get that last win at home before we head off so to keep that momentum into the road trip is big,” he added.

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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