After returning from a successful road trip through the United States, the Red Deer Rebels will have their hands full this weekend.
First up comes a matchup with the Memorial Cup host Kamloops Blazers Friday night at 7 p.m. who sit on top of the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) B.C. Division.
Overall Kamloops has been one of the league’s best teams with a 33-10-4-2 record and is fourth in the standings among the WHL’s 22 squads.
Led by Dallas Stars prospect Logan Stankoven, the Blazers beefed up their roster in preparation for hosting this season’s Memorial Cup.
The 19-year-old is tied for second in the league with 76 points and second in assists with 49. Most notably he was also part of Team Canada’s national junior team that brought home the gold medal at the World Juniors.
Behind Stankoven are four others with at least 50 points including Matthew Seminoff (56), Daylan Kuefler (52), Caedan Bankier (52), and Ryan Hofer (51).
The Blazers also have the league’s best powerplay capitalizing on 29.8 per cent of their opportunities. However, on the other side of the coin, the Rebels are second in the WHL on the penalty kill with an 83.3 per cent success rate.
In net, Dylan Ernst leads all WHL goalies with 28 wins, and in 40 starts he has just 10 total losses. The 2004-born goaltender this season has posted a 2.62 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.
Following that Red Deer will play back-to-back games against their Central Division rival Medicine Hat Tigers. The first is on Saturday on the road at 7 p.m. and on Family Day Monday for a rare afternoon game at the Peavey Mart Centrium at 2 p.m.
The Tigers are battling for their playoff lives and are just on the outside looking in sitting in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. From sixth to ninth place in the conference is extremely tight with just one point separating all four teams.
Medicine Hat needs every point they can get with just 16 games left in the regular season. Expect them to be playing with a sense of urgency down the stretch.
The Tigers are led on the offensive end by Oasiz Wiesblattwho has 44 points in 52 games. Right behind him are forwards Andrew Basha and Brendan Lee who have 43 and 39 points.
Beckett Langkow has started a large majority of games for Medicine Hat between the pipes winning 19 of 41 games. During that time he posted a .886 save percentage and a 3.19 GAA.
The Rebels are coming off a productive road trip through the United States and came home winning three out of five games.
Red Deer opened the road trip with a 1-0 win over the Spokane Chiefs in the shootout on Saturday, Feb. 4 before a 4-2 loss to the Everett Silvertips the following night.
On Tuesday, Feb. 7 the Rebels held off the Portland Winterhawks to claim a 5-4 shootout win but dropped a 6-1 contest against the Seattle Thunderbirds last Friday.
Before they returned home they capped off a 2-1 over the Tri-City Americans in the shootout.