After losing the first three matchups against the Winnipeg Ice this season, the Rebels will look to be on the winning side this Friday night.
Central Alberta’s team is sitting just below the Ice for second in the Western Hockey League’s overall standings, and tied in points with the Saskatoon Blades.
With that in mind, this matchup is important for many reasons including Red Deer being on the cusp of clinching a playoff spot.
On Nov. 8th and 9th the Rebels lost back-to-back games to Winnipeg on the road. The losses were the Rebels’ first of the season after starting the campaign with 15 straight wins.
In the first game, the Rebels lost 3-1 after going down 3-0 at the beginning of the period.
The next night Red Deer got into penalty trouble during a 7-4 loss. The Ice went a near-perfect four-for-five on the powerplay and the Rebels were held scoreless on two powerplay attempts.
That trend continued to the most recent matchup between the two teams on Jan. 28 in a 5-1 loss at the Peavey Mart Centrium. Red Deer was on the penalty kill five times and despite the Ice only scoring on two of those opportunities, the Rebels spent ten minutes of the game down a man.
The Ice were strong on the puck and spent most of the game in their offensive zone. They’re led by a deep lineup including defenceman Zach Benson who is second in the WHL with 85 points and 55 assists. He’s also projected to be a first-round selection in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.
Meanwhile, forward Connor McClennon is third in goals with 38 and defenceman Ben Zloty is third in the WHL with 54 assists.
The Rebels will also take on the Kelowna Rockets on Saturday for the first time this season.
The Rockets are fighting for a playoff spot in the Western Conference currently sitting in eighth place seven points ahead of the Victoria Royals.
Kelowna’s biggest threat to score on a regular basis comes from NHL draft prospect Andrew Cristall who’s posted 30 goals and 39 assists for 69 points.
Forward Gabriel Szturc is close behind Cristall with 18 goals and 42 assists for 60 points.
The Rebels will be looking to get back on track after dropping two of their last three games. A 7-4 loss to the Kamloops Blazers on Friday and dropped a 4-1 decision to the Medicine Hat Tigers on Monday.
Red Deer will be without the services of 20-year-old defenceman Christoffer Sedoff, who was handed a four-game suspension Thursday for a head check in Monday’s Family Day matinee. Sedoff was given a check to the head major penalty and a game misconduct for the hit on Tigers forward Pasha Bocharov. In 53 games this year, Sedoff has four goals, 41 assists for 45 points.