The Red Deer Rebels will try and get back in the win column Friday night against the Spokane Chiefs. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Rebels to face stiff test in red hot Spokane Chiefs

It’s been almost three years since the Spokane Chiefs set foot inside the Centrium.

The last time, Red Deer eeked out a 4-3 overtime win, on Oct. 27, 2017. No member of the current Rebels was on the roster for that win. Lane Zabocki was the first star and Jared Dmytriw scored the winner. Both players are playing U Sports hockey this season.

This time around when Spokane hits the ice on Friday night, they arrive under different circumstances. They have a playoff position all but locked up, they’ve won seven straight and nine of the last 10 and also have the league’s top point producer in Adam Beckman. The 18-year-old third-round pick of the Minnesota Wild in 2019 has 44 goals and 46 for an even 100 this year. He was the first WHL player this season to reach the 100-point plateau.

The Chiefs offensive attack is buoyed by Eli Zummack with 79 points (22g, 57a) while LW Luke Toporowski has notched 27 goals and 58 points. Reigning WHL defenceman of the year Ty Smith also has 53 points in 43 games.

In short, they’re dangerous.

“What we know is that they’re fast, they’re smart and they’re skilled. We’re not going to beat them by outscoring them,” said Rebels forward Arshdeep Bains, who is the team’s top point producer with 48 points in 59 games.

“We have to be a good defensive team, defence has to be strong for us to be successful.”

In net, Spokane hasn’t done too badly either, with Los Angeles Kings prospect Lukas Parik sporting a 20-7-2 record, a 2.82 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. Parik, who was with Team Czech Republic in this year’s world junior championship, was taken by the Kings in the third round of last year’s NHL draft. He was selected by the Chiefs 43rd overall in the 2019 CHL Import Draft.

Smith, who won gold with Canada in this year’s world juniors, is a 2018 first-round pick of the New Jersey Devils. The Lloydminster native notched eight points in a 9-2 rout of the Seattle Thunderbirds last week.

Red Deer will also need to stay disciplined against the Chiefs, whose power play is operating at 24.1 per cent, good for fourth in the WHL. The Rebels penalty kill 76.5 per cent, 17th overall.

The Rebels host the Chiefs Friday at the Centrium, with puck drop slated for 7 p.m. Red Deer will also play the Swift Current Broncos at home on Saturday.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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