The Red Deer Rebels announced on Thursday they’ve signed goaltender Taylor Tabashniuk to a Western Hockey League (WHL) Scholarship and Development Agreement.
The 15-year-old from Regina was drafted by Red Deer 127th overall in the sixth round of last year’s WHL Prospects Draft.
Rebels assistant general manager Shaun Sutter told The Advocate they view Tabashniuk as the best goalie of his age group in Saskatchewan.
“I know that’s a bold statement because he didn’t play on the Saskatchewan winter games team but he’s a taller goalie that’s had a lot of success,” he said.
“Statistically he’s a league leader in multiple categories playing on one of the best teams in the Saskatchewan U18 league.”
The young goaltender plays for the Regina Pat Canadians in the Saskatchewan Male U18 AAA Hockey League.
In 25 games he’s tied for fourth in the league with 16 wins. He’s posted a 1.95 goals-against average, a .909 save percentage, and is tied for second with four shutouts.
He was also in net for Regina at the Circle K Classic in Calgary where he led his team to a pair of wins including a shutout. He also posted a 1.50 GAA and a .943 save percentage in the tournament.
“We’ve been very happy with his development all year and his progression,” Sutter said.
“He’s really shown he can play at a high level. We really liked him when we drafted him but we tell all these kids you have to go out there with your teams and you have to earn it and he’s definitely done that this year.”
“That’s one thing if he was a 16-year-old that would be impressive but he’s a 15-year-old. It’s important to us too he’s in a really good program for development”
With goaltender Rhett Stoesser going down with a season-ending injury, the Rebels are down to just two goalies – Kyle Kelsey and Chase Wutzke.
For now, Tabashniuk will remain with his team in Regina but if the Rebels need him to fill a role due to injury they could call him up.
“[Regina] will be starting playoffs this weekend so he’s staying with them. Like any player they’re not on our team until they make our roster,” Sutter said.
“The way we feel is when you have good goalies you can never have enough.”