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Red Deer Rebels nab defenceman in first round of WHL Prospects Draft

Red Deer picked Luke Vlooswyk of Calgary 17th overall

The Red Deer Rebels added to their blueline in a big way at the 2022 WHL Prospects draft.

Red Deer picked Luke Vlooswyk, a six-foot-two, 160-pound right-shot defenceman 17th overall Thursday. Vlooswyk, 15, played last season with the Calgary Bisons U15AAA program, posting eight goals and 17 assists in 33 games. He also recorded two goals and seven assists in five playoff games.

Rebels associate GM Shaun Sutter said the team is thrilled to get a rangy defenceman who is also very athletic.

“Luke is a long, athletic, big right-shot defenceman that can skate and has what we think is great character. We can visualize him being captain one day,” Sutter said.

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“We think the runway and the ceiling is quite high. So we’re very excited to select him.”

With six-foot-five, 242-pound Matteo Fabrizi already in the mix, Sutter is hopeful the club’s development staff can mold Vlooswyk in a similar fashion.

All of the Rebels’ defencemen last season, other than Kyle Masters, were six-foot-one or taller.

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“What we look for in defencemen is long guys, that are athletic and smart. Our coaches and our development team can do a lot with those guys. I think the big thing is the mindset of the player,” Sutter added.

“One thing for us, when we went through the interview process, with a lot of the players that we felt were in this area of the draft, Luke really separated himself with how he communicates and the mentally he has as a player.

“The Lightning bolt moment happens when you talk to a kid like that and you see who he is as a person.”

In the second round, Red Deer drafted, six-foot, 148-pound left-winger Matthew Gard out of Winnipeg. Gard, 15, played for Rink Hockey Academy U15 last season, posting 10 goals and 32 assists in 27 games.

In the fourth round, Red Deer took Gard’s teammate, defenceman Tate Dolinsky. Dolinsky is listed at six-foot, 156-pound and had 10 goals and 18 assists in 29 games last year.

With the 83rd selection, the Rebels added another forward in Cole Carter. Carter spent last season with the Battlefords North West Stars U15AA. Carter, a five-foot-nine, 133 winger had 17 goals and 44 points in the Saskatchewan U15AA league last year.

Red Deer went back to Manitoba in the fifth round, picking Reece Gault from Oakbank, Man. Gault is listed at five-foot-seven, 110-pounds and put up seven goals and 15 assists in 31 games with the Eastman Selects U15AAA group last year.

The Rebels also picked two goals in the later rounds. Red Deer grabbed Taylor Tabashniuk of Regina in the sixth round, 127th overall and Matthew Kondro of St. Albert in the eighth round, 171st overall.

In the seventh round, Red Deer added centre Steven Steranka of Regina, a teammate of Tabashniuk. In the ninth round, the Rebels drafted Cole Connolly and in the 10th, they took Jovan Sandhu.