In his wildest dreams, Red Deer Rebels forward Kalan Lind didn’t expect to be where he is, at this exact moment.
Down the road, the freshly turned 16-year-old knew he was going to make it happen. Just may be not so soon.
Lind, drafted sixth overall by the Rebels in the last summer’s WHL Bantam Draft entered the fast track to junior hockey last weekend, playing his first career WHL game.
“It was cool, nerve-wracking at the start but once I got going, just went back to my game and knew how I had play,” said Lind, who only celebrated his 16th birthday in January.
The uniqueness of this 24-game WHL Central division-only season, which started in late February, is that players like Lind really have nowhere else to play.
He started the season with the Saskatoon Contacts of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA League as a 15-year-old, only to have the season paused after six games.
Lind was on a torrid pace there, with seven goals and seven assists in six games and he also had a mammoth 2019-20, with 68 goals and 52 assists in 27 games for the Swift Current Broncos U15 AA.
In a regular year, he wouldn’t be allowed to join the Rebels, except in emergency circumstances up to a limit of five games or after his U18 AAA season had ended.
The window opened slightly when he was invited to camp – before Lind finally got his first chance to play in a come-from-behind overtime victory for the Rebels, their first in four games this season.
“It was pretty cool. Good environment in the dressing room before the game and then our first period, we were lights out. Kinda shied away from that in the second and then in the third we played our game and won in overtime,” said Lind, who played on a line with Dallon Melin and Jaxson Weibe.
“It was a pretty good environment in the room after the game, just happy.”
To be ready for a day like that, in as strange a year as it’s been, might be a little less difficult if you understand where Lind is coming from.
The Shaunavon, Sask., product has two older siblings who made the jump to the next level– his sister Taylor, who plays NCAA Div. I hockey at St. Cloud State University and his brother Kole, who played 198 WHL games and the last three years with the Utica Comets in the AHL.
Kalan spent most of the summer training with his brother, learning all he could to be ready for his WHL debut.
“It’s super cool. He’s been through it all. He obviously knows what you have to do to get to the next level. You can’t argue with him about it. You just have to stick with it. If he tells you something you have to do, you have to do it,” he said, adding he talks to his brother as much as he can.
Now that the first is out of the way, Lind is focused on whenever that next chance to suit up will be. The Rebels will play six games in the next 10 days, so there’s a strong likelihood game number two isn’t far off.
“We’ve all just been working and trying to get into the lineup. All of us young guys know how important it is if we get to play some games and to take advantage of it. Hopefully, I get a couple more games,” he said.
The Rebels host the Lethbridge Hurricanes Friday and Sunday at 7 p.m. and travel to Lethbridge on Saturday. Fans are still not allowed to attend games in person but can follow the action on WHL Live.