Red Deer Rebels forward Brandon Cutler finds early christmas gift with first goal

Red Deer Rebels right winger Brandon Cutler was finally in the right place at the right time.

In the 22 games prior to Saturday, the 16-year-old rookie hadn’t had any luck in the goal-scoring department.

When the forward drove the net hard in the third period at home against Brandon that night, like he’d done a thousand times before since he was a young hockey player on the outdoor rinks in Spruce Grove, the puck hit his stick, and the red light went on.

Teammate Austin Pratt rocketed a pass from the corner to the rookie, who kept his stick on the ice, despite being tied up by a Wheat Kings defender, and he was able to secure himself, and a few lucky fans, an early Christmas gift.

“Takes a lot of pressure off my back. Felt good to get the first one. Hopefully, I can get a couple more,” Cutler said about his first career WHL goal. “I got the puck, probably going to give it to my grandparents for Christmas.”

Cutler has been in-and-out of the lineup this season, occasionally finding time on the Rebels fourth line, associate coach Jeff Truitt said, for a young player, there is an easy recipe to earning more playing time.

“We hope that he keeps things simple,” Truitt said. “It’s a learning year. All you want him to do is identify how our systems work. You want him to play well and excel. We just want him to keep it simple, and play with energy and some hardness. Good things will happen because of that. Good things will come because of hard work.”

Cutler has found his way into 24 of 34 games this season, and notched one goal and two assists.

Truitt was careful to project a future lineup spot for Cutler, but was quick to point out the young forward’s role depends on how willing he is to seize the opportunity in front of him.

“He’s going to determine where he fits in,” Truitt said. “If he continues to play at a high level, and use his speed and his hardness and intensity, good things are going to happen for him.”

While that opportunity at 16 may just be ice time, there is a significant void right now with the Rebels missing two of their most important offensive contributors, and Cutler recognizes there could be some minutes available if he continues to work hard.

“Those guys are a big part of our team,” Cutler said of veteran forwards Michael Spacek and Adam Musil who are away at the World Junior Championships representing the Czech Republic. “With them gone, it allows the younger guys to step up and show what we got. It’s going to be a good opportunity, and we’ll see what happens.”

The six-foot, 166-pound, winger seems to understand he can’t score every night as rookie finding his way in the WHL. He is, however, well aware of his responsibility to the team early on in his career.

“This year I just have to be a hard working guy that wins every battle,” he said. “A gritty guy. Maybe next year I can start contributing more (on the) offensive side. Right now I’m going to be a good guy that plays defensive zone and playing a heavy game.”

Perhaps his ability to embrace a role comes from being a ninth round selection in the WHL Bantam Draft in 2015, or the fact that in his midget season wasn’t the most successful with only two goals and four assists in 33 games. While those numbers raise more questions than answers at this point in his young WHL career, there isn’t any doubt about his passion for the game.

“I just remember loving it. Always in the garage with Rollerblades on, or always on the outdoor rink. Just couldn’t get away from it,” Cutler said.

“I just want to have a good debut year, promote myself. Looking forward to what I can do next year. Get comfortable in the league this year, and … hopefully excel next year, and have a good playoff run this year, and next year.”

As the gritty forward carefully plots his WHL path, his grandparents will undoubtedly look back on the Christmas of 2016 when their grandson delivered a gift for the ages in the form of a six-ounce piece of rubber.

Just Posted

Alberta hiring more paramedics and buying new ambulances, none for Red Deer

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer is not concerned the provincial government didn’t… Continue reading

‘My nightmare began again’: Close call as bus carrying Humboldt crash survivor rear-ended

CALGARY — A terrifying ordeal for Humboldt Broncos survivor Ryan Straschnitzki this… Continue reading

Halifax airport operations normalize after Boeing 747 runway overshoot

HALIFAX — The Halifax Stanfield International Airport has resumed normal operations a… Continue reading

Bentley family left without a home grateful for community support

Central Albertans are coming together to support a Bentley family left homeless… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP ready for new mandatory alcohol screening law

Red Deer RCMP are ready to enforce a new law intended to… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer and District Kennel Club Dog Show at Westerner Park

The Red Deer and District Kennel Club is holding a dog show… Continue reading

Pence aide out of running to be Trump’s next chief of staff

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top pick to replace chief of staff… Continue reading

Swath of South faces wintry mess: Snow, sleet, freezing rain

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain… Continue reading

‘I killed my best friend’: Opioids’ fatal grip on mayor, pal

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

Brothers, 20, face second-degree murder charge in death of teen: police

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Police west of Toronto say two brothers have been… Continue reading

A young mayor, his friend, and a fatal attraction to opioids

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

GM fights to retain key tax credit amid plant closing plans

WASHINGTON — General Motors is fighting to retain a valuable tax credit… Continue reading

TTC union asks provincial government to step in on transition to Presto

TORONTO — The union representing transit workers in Canada’s most populous city… Continue reading

Small pot growers find roadblocks on path to microcultivation licences

Yan Boissonneault’s daughter was turning blue. Without warning, his baby had stopped… Continue reading

Most Read