Red Deer Rebels forward Kai Uchacz was all smiles after captain Jayden Grubbe opened the scoring against the Prince Albert Raiders earlier this season. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Red Deer Rebels forward Kai Uchacz was all smiles after captain Jayden Grubbe opened the scoring against the Prince Albert Raiders earlier this season. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Rebels hit the highway for a long road trip

Red Deer plays eight before next home game

The Red Deer Rebels will put their undefeated record on the line this weekend as they kick off a long road trip.

They head to Saskatchewan on Friday to take on the Swift Current Broncos before they make their way to Moose Jaw on Saturday to play the Warriors.

If they manage to leave the land of the living skies 15-0, they will have one of their toughest tests yet when they play the Winnipeg ICE on back-to-back nights on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The ICE are currently at the top of the Eastern Conference with only one loss so far this year and are riding a nine-game win streak. Winnipeg is currently ranked second in the entire Canadian Hockey League, while the Rebels sit third.

They’re led by Connor McClennon and Owen Pederson who are fourth and fifth in the WHL in points leaders with 23 and 22. The Ice are also solid between the pipes with goaltender Daniel Hauser who leads all WHL goalies with 11 wins.

If Red Deer can win at least one of those games, it will send a message to the rest of the league that this team is for real if they haven’t already done so.

The Rebels will then play the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday, Nov. 11, and Saturday, Nov. 12 in Regina against the Pats.

As cliche as it is, the Rebels will need to continue what they’ve been elite at in the last 13 games to continue their success.

The Rebels will need to continue to lean on their forward depth to score big goals including forward Kai Uchacz who leads the team and is tied for third in the league with 11 goals. Forward Jhett Larson has also stepped up with eight goals and six assists followed by Jace Isley who has seven goals and five assists.

Captain Jayden Grubbe leads the team with 15 points with his offensive versatility and has contributed four goals and 11 assists. Forward Kalan Lind and defenceman Christoffer Sedoff have also stepped up to the plate and have played an unselfish game with 12 assists each.

Special teams have also played a huge part in the Rebels’ early season success.

The Rebels power play is currently tops in the WHL, operating at 29.3 per cent, with 17 power play goals on 58 chances. Their penalty kill is also not too shabby, operating at 88.9 per cent, slightly behind the ICE, who rank first.

They’ve also had plenty to be optimistic about in the net as both rookie goaltenders Rhett Stoesser and Kyle Kelsey have impressed during this winning streak. Stoesser, who was a free agent signing in training camp, leads the league with two shutouts and 1.40 goals-against average. Both Kelsey and Stoesser are in the top five in the WHL in save percentage with .936 and .934 respectively.

However, Kelsey has posted 1.87 goals against average and is second in the league with eight wins. Kelsey was also named to the Canadian Hockey League’s team of the month for October.

For the eastern road swing, Red Deer has called up defenceman Luke Vlooswyk. The six-foot-two, 161-pound blueliner joins the Rebels from the Calgary Buffaloes U18AAA of the Alberta Elite Hockey League. In 10 games this year, the 15-year-old has five assists in 10 games. Vlooswyk was the 17th overall selection by the Rebels in the 2022 WHL Prospects Draft.

Red Deer also announced Thursday that Tayem Gislason, 19, has left the team for personal reasons and is headed back to Winnipeg. The Rebels added Gislason in a swap with the Prince Albert Raiders in early October. Through eight games with the Rebels, he had one assist.

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