The last of the walking wounded may be joining the Red Deer Rebels for some Western Hockey League weekend warfare.
Defenceman Nick Bell and 16-year-old forward Daulton Siwak are on the verge of joining the Rebels for the club’s final two preseason games, Friday at Innisfail versus the Kootenay Ice and Saturday in Lacombe against the Calgary Hitmen.
Both Bell (ankle) and Siwak (mononucleosis) have yet to play an exhibition game and Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin is hoping that will be rectified soon. “Bell is going out for a full practice today and will hopefully be ready to go this weekend,” Wallin said on Wednesday afternoon.
“As for Daulton, we’ll see. He’s getting a little stronger each day and it would be good for him to get into one of the two games.”
The return of Bell and Siwak will boost the Red Deer roster to 27 players, although that number will be reduced following the weekend with the exodus of 15-year-olds Mason Burr and Matt Dumba.
The club will also release/reassign either Cam Gorchynski or Kraymer Barnstable once No. 1 netminder Darcy Kuemper returns from the Minnesota Wild training camp, which will likely occur within the next week.
The survivor will head into the regular season as the back-up stopper. In addition, there’s a strong possibility that one or two forwards will receive pink slips upon the arrival of Landon Ferraro, Willie Coetzee and Cass Mappin, all of whom are at NHL camps.
The club is down to eight defencemen, including Dumba and Justin Weller, who’s at camp with the Phoenix Coyotes.
With Dumba’s impending exit, the team — barring a trade or injury — will open the season with Weller, Bell, Alex Petrovic, Cullen Morin, Brad Deagle, Colin Archer and Jindrich Barak on the blueline.
The Rebels, who are 4-0 in preseason play with two wins coming via the shootout, will open their regular-season schedule on Sept. 18 at home versus the Hitmen.
Notes: Prior to Thurday’s action, Ferraro had picked up one assist in three games with the Detroit Red Wings prospects in a rookie camp tournament at Traverse City, Mich. Coetzee, also with the Wings prospects, was pointless in two outings. Meanwhile, Mappin had scored once in two games with the Columbus Blue Jackets prospects and Kuemper allowed one goal while stopping 25 shots in Minnesota’s 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars. Lacombe native Scott McCulloch had one goal in two games with the Stars and Red Deer product Colton Sceviour had two assists in three Dallas prospects contests. Former Rebels Brandon Sutter is also competing in the Traverse City tournament with the Carolina Hurricanes rookies, as is Red Deer native Paul Postma, with the Atlanta Thrashers. Sutter had managed one goal and one assist in three games and Postma had struck for one goal and assisted on another in three outings . . . On Wednesday, the WHL unveiled the new Reebok jerseys that all member teams will wear this season. While some of the shirts sport new color designs, the Rebels jersey remains virtually unchanged . . . Four WHL teams are included in the Canadian Hockey League’s preseason top-10 rankings, with Calgary at No. 2, Brandon ranked fourth, Saskatoon seventh and the Kelowna Rockets 10th . . . With overage netminder Mark Guggenberger still nursing a groin injury suffered last spring, the Rockets acquired goalie Warren Shymko from the Tri-City Americans on Tuesday for a ninth-round bantam choice. Sophomore Adam Brown is Kelowna’s starter, for now.