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Rebels to face pair of division rivals this weekend

A point away from first in the East
Red Deer Rebels forward Kai Uchacz was all smiles after captain Jayden Grubbe opened the scoring against the Prince Albert Raiders. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

The Red Deer Rebels hope to build off a 4-3 win earlier this week facing a couple of Central Division rivals.

This weekend the Rebels will play the Edmonton Oil Kings Friday night in Red Deer but will travel to Lethbridge for a Saturday night tilt against the Hurricanes.

Red Deer remains one point behind the Winnipeg Ice for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and look to be the favourites to take the Central Division crown.

With goaltender Kyle Kelsey out week-to-week with a lower-body injury, Rhett Stoesser is poised to continue as the Rebels starting goaltender with Chase Wutzke as the backup.

Defenceman Marek Schneider is also day-to-day with an upper-body injury. With the recent acquisition of defenceman Nicholas Andrusiak and Quentin Bourne returning from missing time with an illness both of them will see the ice while Schneider is injured.

Friday’s meeting against the Oil Kings will be their ninth and final meeting of the season. So far, Red Deer has dominated the defending WHL champions and have won all eight matchups. Most recently the Rebels coasted to a 6-2 win in Edmonton on Dec. 30.

Edmonton is now in rebuilding mode after going all in last season to win the 2022 WHL Championship but in return lost a lot of their top players heading into the 2022-23 campaign. Edmonton sits at the bottom of the Central Division with a 6-33-1-0 record.

In the offensive zone, the Oil Kings are led by rookie Gavin Hodnett who has 23 points in 34 games, and Rhett Melnyk with 22 points in 40 games.

Goaltender Kolby Hay has been Edmonton’s number-one guy between the pipes with 33 games played. In that time he’s posted 4.46 goals against average and a .879 save percentage.

The Hurricanes on the other hand are tied for second place in the Central Division with a 22-15-0-2 record. They’re 5-4-0-1 in their last 10 games and are coming off a 5-3 win against the Swift Current Broncos.

The season series between the two teams is tied 1-1 with three more games on hand before the end of the regular season. The Rebels won the first game 5-0 in October but lost 3-2 in a shootout a month later.

Forwards Jet Jones and Cole Shepard lead Lethbridge with 34 points in 39 games. Forward Tyson Zimmer is right behind them with 30 points in 38 games. Meanwhile, Logan Wormald and Tyson Laventure each have 30 points.

Rookie goaltender Harrison Meneghin has been solid for his team appearing in 28 games and posting a 2.71 GAA and a .912 save percentage.

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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