Red Deer Rebels forward Carter Anderson had a smile a mile wide as the team returned home this week.
The Thompson, Manitoba product got to do something that’s been almost two years in the making over the Rebels’ seven-game road swing through Manitoba and Saskatchewan– play in front of family.
Plenty of the Anderson clan made the nearly eight-hour journey to watch Carter play last weekend as the Rebels played a pair of games in Winnipeg and one more in Brandon.
“I got to see lots of family in Winnipeg and Brandon, it was awesome,” said the second-year forward, who was on his first road trip as a WHL player.
In Friday’s 5-3 win in Brandon, the 17-year-old lit the lamp for his second goal of the year, a cherry on top of the visit.
“It was obviously really special to share that moment with them, as a whole, it’s awesome,” he said.
Just 48 hours later, in front of more family, he scored again, albeit in a 7-5 loss to Winnipeg.
He scored in his third straight game of the trip on Tuesday in Moose Jaw and the confidence was just oozing from there.
“You just see his confidence grow. He’s a certain type of player where he’s got to be engaged physically to be effective,” said Rebels assistant coach Ryan Colville.
“This road trip he found a balance between getting himself engaged physically early in games and using that to create offence. At the end of the trip, he was on a line with Melin and Isley, that’s a big heavy line and it fits his style.
“They create a lot of chances for us. Carter is showing a knack for burying them when he gets the chance.”
Anderson is no stranger to playing away from home. In Grade 9, he moved to Winnipeg to play at Rink Academy, which made the trip back to his home province extra special.
“I missed them quite a bit, obviously being far from home, it’s hard,” said Anderson, who has four goals and an assist in 17 games this year with Red Deer.
While the 17-year-old is carrying confidence from the road swing, so is the rest of the Rebels’ group. Red Deer finished the trip 5-2, with their two losses coming to one of the top-ranked teams in the Canadian Hockey League– the Winnipeg ICE.
So, rattling off four straight victories in a tight timeline means a group that is holding an immense belief in themselves. Add in the fact they sit second in the WHL Central Division just two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings, the upcoming homestand is going to be a big one.
“We wanted to make a big point with three games coming out of the Winnipeg (loss) to really make sure that the trip finished off strong. I thought our guys really responded,” Colville said.
“Confidence for the group is huge. Now, it’s just a matter of keeping that going. During the trip, you’re playing six games in nine days. You keep a little bit of momentum. It’s harder when you get home and get a little time off. Now you have to find ways to ramp it back up.”
The Rebels take on the Calgary Hitmen Friday and welcome the Prince Albert Raiders Saturday. In Friday’s game, the Rebels will wear special jerseys designed by 13-year-old Mya McCullough as part of the CHL’s Leave Your Mark jersey design contest.
The jerseys for Friday’s game will be available via silent auction starting when doors open at 6 p.m. Bids will close at the end of the second intermission. Proceeds from the auction will be donated to President’s Choice Children’s Charity in the fight against childhood hunger.
Bidding for the jerseys starts at $250 with a minimum bid increment of $15. “Buy now” options will also be available.
After a mid-week trip to Edmonton on Wednesday, Red Deer seven of its next eight games at the Peavey Mart Centrium, leading into the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championships.
Puck drop is 7 p.m. Friday night at the Peavey Mart Centrium.