Red Deer Rebels to open new season on Sept. 18 at home against Calgary Hitmen

The Red Deer Rebels will get a heavy dose of the Kootenay Ice, meeting the Cranbrook-based team eight times — four home, four away — during the 2009-10 Western Hockey League regular season.

The Red Deer Rebels will get a heavy dose of the Kootenay Ice, meeting the Cranbrook-based team eight times — four home, four away — during the 2009-10 Western Hockey League regular season.

The Rebels will face each of their other Central Division opponents — the Calgary Hitmen, Edmonton Oil Kings, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Medicine Hat Tigers — six times, evenly split between home and away, and will take on each of their East Division foes — the Saskatoon Blades, Moose Jaw Warriors, Regina Pats, Prince Albert Raiders, Swift Current Broncos and Brandon Wheat Kings — on four occasions.

The Rebels will open with three consecutive home games. Calgary will be at the Centrium on Sept. 18, Kootenay will visit the next day and Lethbridge will be in Red Deer on Sept. 25.

Red Deer’s major excursions into the East Division will occur in October and February, and the Rebels will trek into the B.C. Division in November and January.

Red Deer will not travel south of the border, but each of the U.S. Division teams will make one visit to the Centrium.

The Portland Winter Hawks will come through on Oct. 16, with the Seattle Thunderbirds visiting on Oct. 27, the Everett Silvertips stopping by four nights later and the Spokane Chiefs checking in on Nov. 21.

The Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets will not appear at the Centrium during the regular season.

The Rebels open training camp on Sunday, Aug. 23, and the McDonald’s Black and White intrasquad game will be played on Wednesday, Aug. 26 at the Centrium.

The Hitmen and Oil Kings are on the Rebels’ menu for a total of four preseason games. Red Deer will face the Hitmen on Sept. 2 at Centennial Arena in Calgary and on Sept. 12 at Lacombe, and will clash with the Oil Kings on Sept. 4 at Stettler and 24 hours later in Leduc.

Also on the Rebels’ exhibition schedule are Moose Jaw on Aug. 29 in the Oil Kings tournament at Edmonton, and Kootenay on Sept. 11 at innisfail.

(See the Rebels 2009-10 schedule in Scoreboard on Page B5)

l The Calgary Hitmen are in the market for a new head coach after Dave Lowry signed on as a Calgary Flames assistant on Tuesday.

Lowry left the Hitmen after one super successful season as the head man. The club posted 59 regular-season wins, then recorded 12 consecutive playoff victories before eventually falling to Kelowna in six games in the WHL championship series.

“Obviously, things went very well for us last year, and Dave did very well,” Hitmen general manager Kelly Kisio told the Calgary Sun. “The Flames came knocking on the door and I don’t blame him for moving on to the next level.”

Kisio, who coached the Hitmen from 2004 to ‘08, insisted he will not return to the bench and will instead find the right man from what should be a long list of coaching candidates.

Meanwhile, due to his appointment with the Flames, Lowry has been replaced as head coach of the Canadian national men’s summer under-18 team.

Bob Boughner, the head coach of the Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires, will replace Lowry as the head man, while Kootenay head coach Mark Holick and Oshawa Generals bench boss Chris DePiero will remain as the assistants.

The U18 squad will be selected following an Aug. 1-4 camp in Calgary and will compete in the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament in Slovakia and the Czech Republic later in the month.

• The Kelowna Rockets gave head coach Ryan Huska a two-year contract extension on Monday and signed assistant coach Ryan Cuthbert to a new three-year deal the following day. Jeff Findlay resigned as an assistant coach last week.

Kelowna president and GM Bruce Hamilton also signed director of player personnel and head scout, Lorne Frey, to a three-year contract extension.

• Following the recent appointments of Mark Habscheid to Chilliwack, Curtis Hunt to Regina and Craig Hartsburg to Everett, only the Hitmen and Swift Current Broncos are in need of a head coach for the 2009-10 season.

The Broncos position opened last week when Dean Chynoweth, who also served as GM, left to join the New York Islanders as an assistant coach.

Contact Greg Meachem at gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com

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