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Young talent shines in Red Deer Rebels intrasquad game

The Rebels start the preseason this Friday
Rebels defenceman Matteo Fabrizi leads the charge up ice during the teams black and white intrasquad game at the the Peavey Mart Centrium Wednesday night. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

The Red Deer Rebels hit the ice at the Peavey Mart Centrium Wednesday night for their black and white intrasquad game.

Team White won the hard earned battle 4-2 with plenty of young talent shining on both sides of the ice.

And according to head coach Steve Konowalchuk their team depth was on full display for the fans in attendance.

The Rebels bench boss said with plenty of intrasquad games and training camp within the last week he has liked what he’s seen from his team with plenty of interchangable parts.

“The guys can play from the first line to the fourth line. Guys can move up and that’s good competition. I like our speed up front, it’s a good tenacity, and definitely same on the back end, like depth… There’s always competition for ice time which through a long season keeps everybody on their toes,” Konowalchuk said.

It was forward Carson Birnie who got the first goal for of the game for Team White midway through the first period.

After a scoreless second period, Craig Armstrong tapped in a loose puck in the crease passed goaltender Chase Wutzke to tie the game 1-1 for Team Black. Armstrong was acquired by the Rebels in a trade with the Prince George Cougars in exchange for draft picks in August. The 19-year-old forward from Crossfield impressed during training camp and even scored two goals during a main camp scrimmage.

Later in the frame, Team White scored two goals within 30 seconds of eachother by forward Ollie Josephson and defenceman Hunter Mayo. Josephson, who is from Victoria played six games with the Rebels last season where he contributed an assist. Mayo, who’s from Martensville, Sask. played his first full season with the Rebels last season and had 17 points.

Team Black made a push a few minutes later when forward Carter Anderson scored on a breakaway sliding the puck through the five hole. Anderson had 10 points in 65 games with the Rebels last season.

Birnie scored his second of the game as Team White put the final nail in the coffin with under two minutes remaining. Birnie finished with a four point night assisting on two other goals. The Saskatchewan Native played last season with the Estevan Bears U18 AAA and fired home 18 goals for 35 points.

Konowalchuk gave credit to a number of his young players in the effort including forwards Jhett Larson, Talon Brigley, and Carter Anderson as well as defenceman Matteo Fabrizi who all had strong showings.

“They’re looking like they want to take a little bit more ice time,” he said. “Fabrizi’s looking like he’s skating better you know more of a hockey player body. That’s what they’re supposed to do they went off in the summer and worked at it, gave themselves a chance to get better and I think a lot of guys got a little bit better so that’s what we’re looking for.”

Konowalchuk also liked what he has seen from defenceman Quentin Bourne from California who was taken in last year’s WHL U.S. Priority Draft as well as forward Escalus Burlock who was picked 135th overall in the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft.

“Burlock’s a kid that’s come in here and played really well for I shouldn’t say a guy you’re not expecting but he’s not supposedly the whole profile early on but he’s fit on every line we’ve put him on out there,” he said.

Jeramiah Roberts from Colorado who was picked in this years U.S. Draft has also caught the eye of his head coach. Konowalchuk said he’s too young to make the team this year but will be a guy to keep an eye on for the future.

“Those guys will be coming up right behind and pushing and yet our young guys that needed to step up a little bit like Brigley, Fabrizi, and Mayo they all got a bit better too so it’s good,” he added.

All four goaltenders Kyle Kelsey, Rhett Maxcy, Rhett Stoesser, and Chase Wutzke saw action Wednesday night. Konowalchuk said they’ve all done well and continue to look forward despite the loss of Chase Coward for medical reasons for the time being.

“I thought all our goalies have created a good competition amongst themselves,” he added.

Next up for the Rebels is their first preseason matchups with the Calgary Hitmen on Friday in Calgary and a rematch on Saturday in Red Deer at 7 p.m.

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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