Black 6 White 5 (OT)
In front of fans for the first time in nearly two years, the Red Deer Rebels sure gave the hometown faithful something to cheer about.
The Rebels rounded out five days of training camp with their annual Black and White game, a high-paced back and forth competitive contest that was decided in overtime at the Peavey Mart Centrium.
“It was great, It’s been… I don’t know how many days it’s been but it’s been a long time since we’ve had fans and just having them out there was awesome,” said Rebels 20-year-old forward Arshdeep Bains, who scored twice, including the game-tying goal with 18 seconds left in the third period.
Black grabbed the 6-5 extra-frame victory thanks to some nifty work from captain Jayden Grubbe, who leaves for New York Rangers development camp Thursday. He found Jace Weir, who buried the winner for Black. Grubbe had two goals on the night along with the assist on the OT winner.
Rebels’ new head coach Steve Konowalchuk said the game was everything he expected from the group and hopes the team can build on the effort going forward.
“It was fun to watch, I’m sure for the fans. Fun for me to watch, there’s some nice skill out there. Nice shots, nice plays and at times, there was some good compete with our veteran players,” he said.
“As camp progresses, that’s what you like to see. It ends the first phase of camp and on a good note.”
Newcomer Kai Uchacz also made a mark in the contest, notching a hat trick for Team White. Uchacz, 18, was traded to the Rebels in the offseason for a condition WHL Prospects Draft pick. The forward didn’t play last season after he was removed from the Seattle Thunderbirds roster for making derogatory comments towards a teammate.
Taking advantage of the second chance, he scored four goals in four scrimmages for the Rebels, before the standout performance Wednesday.
“It was good, just getting back into it and getting my feet wet here in Red Deer, it’s been awesome. It was a good game and everyone is Red Deer has been great, been a really good start,” he said.
After some slow moments in the opening frame, Team White forward Carter Anderson opened the scoring just past the midway point of the first, on a nice pass from behind the net by Jhett Larson.
Grubbe equalized quickly, tipping in a Blake Gustafson point shot.
Later in the period, early on the power play, Uchacz finished off a solid tick-tack-toe for his first of the contest.
Black got two back in the second, with 20-year-old Liam Keller scoring on a great pass from Arshdeep Bains. The 20-year-old Bains was at it again on the power play, burying glove side on Connor Ungar.
Early in the third, Dallon Melin tied the game at three, but Grubbe buried soon after to open up a 4-3 lead for Black. Uchacz scored twice in the third and White had a 5-4 lead in the dying minutes.
It was Bains who found the tying goal there, with a laser from the point for his second of the night. He said it’s been fun having a full camp after the way things went last season.
“We haven’t had a camp in a couple years, especially with last year. Just coming back, getting back to work and starting from the very bottom was fun, just getting and we still have a long way to go,” said Bains, who is expected to be an offensive leader for the Rebels in the 2021-22 WHL season.
Jack Thompson and Ungar split goaltending duties for Team White, while Chase Coward and Merik Erickson played in goal for Team Black.
The Rebels are expected to release players from their training camp roster on Thursday morning. Red Deer will play its first preseason game on Saturday night in Edmonton.