Newly acquired Red Deer Rebels defenceman Logan Cunningham may be a fresh face to the organization but the Peavey Mart Centrium remains to be a special place in his hockey career.
In March of the 2019-20 Western Hockey League (WHL) season, Cunningham made his WHL debut in Red Deer as a 15-year-old for the Spokane Chiefs, which would end up being the only game he played in that season.
Within the last week, Cunningham returned to the Centrium for the first time in two years.
“Pretty cool to be back here,” he said. “I remember playing with some of those guys who are playing in the NHL now. It was overwhelming at the time but looking back now it was an unreal experience… I remember the fans were awesome. It was just a very welcoming rink, really. It seemed like a great place to play and I’m loving it here so far.”
Cunningham has a history of playing in Red Deer including multiple trips for the Canada Winter Games in 2018-19 as part of Team Northwest Territories and for the Alberta Cup playing for Team Alberta yellow in the same year.
Just over a week ago, the Rebels acquired Cunningham in a trade with the Spokane Chiefs, and in return, Red Deer sent a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2023 Western Hockey League Prospects Draft.
In the past four seasons, Cunningham has played 65 games regular season games all with the Chiefs, and has amassed eight total points. Last year, was his longest season with Spokane where he played in 48 games. He was drafted 59th overall in the third round of the 2019 WHL Prospects Draft.
The Yellowknife, NWT native said his departure from the Chiefs was mutual and he felt he wasn’t progressing as a player the way he envisioned.
“We just came to the decision they didn’t really have a spot for me there and I was willing to go and try something new. I was happy to leave and I’m excited to be here,” he added.
He didn’t have a preferred landing spot and in his short time in Red Deer thus far, the 18-year-old said his new teammates have been great to him and admitted it has been a significant change but is looking forward to the season.
Cunningham hasn’t been paired up with a particular defensive partner but explained he’s played alongside quite a few members of the Rebels’ defensive group to test what will work best.
“It’s just about rotating me in and getting me the development I need,” he said. “I think the game really well. There are a couple of things with my skating and skillwise I need to work on and they know that. I think a big part of bringing me over here was to help me with those and kind of take me to the next level.”
In the summer he headed back home to Yellowknife for a couple of months before he made the trip to Edmonton to train for a few weeks before the season began. During the offseason, he worked to improve his strength and speed and is feeling good about it so far.
It’s unclear if Cunningham will see game action this weekend as the Rebels host the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday and the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday. However, Cunningham is excited to get started.
“We got a good group of guys here… Hopefully I get a game or two in and just see how the rest of the season can go because I have no clue where I stand right now. Just kind of building and working me in here but I’m just excited to see where I end up fitting in.”