Rebels prospects coming

The future of the Red Deer Rebels will be on display at the Arena this weekend as the Western Hockey League club conducts its annual prospects camp.

The future of the Red Deer Rebels will be on display at the Arena this weekend as the Western Hockey League club conducts its annual prospects camp.

While the three two-hour on-ice sessions — starting Friday at 1:30 p.m. and concluding Sunday at 12:45 p.m. — will give head man Jesse Wallin and his coaching staff the opportunity to evaluate the skills of the 25 prospects slated to attend, the camp will serve other vital purposes.

The players will visit the Centrium and the Rebels’ dressing room/training facility, and perhaps most importantly will tour Hunting Hills High School and meet with the Rebels’ education advisors.

“It’s an opportunity for these kids to come in and see what our program is all about,” Wallin said Tuesday.

“There’s always lots of questions. Kids get drafted and a lot of them don’t know what to expect. This camp allows them to come in and kind of familiarize themselves with the situation, the surroundings and what the program is all about.

“When they get here in August for main camp, they’re familiar with a lot of things, they know what to expect. They’ve been able to ask some questions and meet the people. They come back with a certain comfort level in knowing where they’re going and what it’s all about. They can come in and focus on hockey.”

The vast majority of the 25 prospects — defenceman Matt Dumba and forward Mason Burr excepted — attending this weekend’s camp haven’t played a single WHL game, and will be introduced to Rebels education advisor Jim Bolding and Kevin Robertson, the vice president and Sports Performance and Excellence coordinator at Hunting Hills.

“The education aspect is huge. Everyone always has questions about getting transfers and how our education program works,” said Wallin.

“Jim and Kevin do a tremendous job of getting guys transferred back and forth, especially when you’re dealing with inter-provincial schools.

“They’re able to answer a lot of questions and get the ball rolling on that process.

‘It gives these kids a good head start.”

The camp will feature nine players selected in this year’s WHL draft, including top pick defenceman Kayle Doetzel of Rosetown, Sask., as well as 12 born in 1994 and four ‘93-born players.

The ‘93s are goaltender Zach Rakochy, defenceman Matt Pufahl and forwards Tyson Ness and Locke Muller.

Rakochy and Ness played sparingly at the junior A level last season with Melville (SJHL) and Grande Prairie (AJHL) respectively, Pufahl missed nearly the entire season due to shoulder surgery and Muller was listed while playing at the Kelowna Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy.

Defenceman Channing Bresciani, another 17-year-old, was also invited to camp but is unable to attend due to exams, while the Rebels coaching staff is familiar with the skills of another top ‘93-born prospect, Chad Robinson, and therefore did not issue him an invitation.

Red Deer rearguard Kirsten Odendaal will be at the prospects camp but will not skate. The captain of the Optimist Rebels midget AAA team is recovering from shoulder surgery after being injured during the Pacific Region series with the Vancouver Northwest Giants.

With the exception of forward Jackson Playfair and defencemen David Heath and Danys Chartrand, all of whom were listed following last year’s main camp, the ‘94-born players attending prospects camp were selected in the 2009 bantam draft.

American forward Nikolas Olsson, another 2009 draft pick, won’t attend this weekend’s camp but has indicated he may be at main camp in August.

Meanwhile, the Rebels recently learned that former prospect Tyson McCallum has decided to play at the junior A level.

The six-foot-four forward, who turns 17 this month and played with the Cariboo Cougars in Prince George last season, was chosen first overall by his hometown Dawson Creek Rage when the North American Hockey League held its 2010 entry draft last Wednesday. The Rage are an expansion team in the NAHL, a junior A league that now has one club in Canada and 27 in the United States.

McCallum, who had 12 goals and 34 points in 39 regular-season games with the Cougars and six points (4-2) in fourth playoff contests, decided the NAHL was his best option and informed the Rebels of his decision last week. Not considered a blue-chip prospect, he was immediately dropped from Red Deer’s protected list.

“He notified us that he’d been recruited by Dawson Creek and felt that was the next step for him as opposed to trying to make the jump to the Western League. He certainly isn’t committed to playing in our league,” said Wallin.

The roster for the Rebels spring prospect camp, including year of birth, hometown and draft/list status:

Goal — Zach Rakochy, ‘93, Yorkton, Sask., listed; Bolton Pouliot, ‘94, Calgary, 2009 draft; Alex Orth, ‘95, Abbotsford, B.C., 2010 draft.

Defence — Matt Pufahl, ‘93, Saskatoon, 2008 draft; Kayle Doetzel, ‘95, Rosetown, Sask., 2010 draft; Davin Stener, ‘94, Fort Saskatchewan, 2009 draft; Danys Chartrand, ‘94, Winnipeg, listed; Dawven Berggren, ‘95, 2010 draft; Matthew Dumba, ‘94, Calgary, 2009 draft; Lucas Grayson, ‘94, Port Hardy, B.C., 2009 draft; David Heath, ‘94, Melita, Man., listed; Kevin Pochuk, ‘95, Winnipeg, 2010 draft; Tyson Maton, ‘95, Spruce Grove, 2010 draft.

Forwards — Tyson Ness. ‘93, Grande Prairie, 2008 draft; Mason Burr, ‘94, Airdrie, 2009 draft; Marc McCoy, ‘94, Edmonton, 2009 draft; Cory Millette, ‘95, Storthoaks, Sask., 2010 draft; Jackson Playfair, ‘94, Calgary, listed; Scott Feser, ‘95, Red Deer, 2010 draft; Locke Muller, ‘93, Kelowna, listed; Joel Hamilton, ‘94, Cochrane, 2009 draft; Brooks Maxwell, ‘94, Raymond, 2009 draft; Spencer Kryczka, ‘95, Calgary, 2010 draft; Chase McMurphy, ‘94, Chestermere, 2009 draft; Scott Ferguson, ‘95, Sylvan Lake, 2010 draft.

gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com