Red Deer Rebels forward Zak Smith has rejoined the team after finished the Manitoba Junior Hockey League season with the Neepawa Natives. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Rebels)

Zak Smith rejoins Rebels for stretch run

Zak Smith’s young hockey career has been marred by a fair amount of losing.

Growing up playing with the Central Plains Capitals in Manitoba, Smith never experienced a winning season, but always hit high totals on the score sheet.

He had 29 points in 29 games two years ago in Bantam AAA and then notched 56 in 44 games in his first and only Midget AAA year with the Capitals.

The Rebels 16-year-old forward, who earned a recall to the big club after his season concluded with the Neepawa Natives of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, hopes he can garner a few playoff wins in Red Deer.

“It’s really exciting because I’ve never really been on a winning team before. I’ve always been on the other end. It’s nice,” Smith said.

A native of Austin, Man., about 130 kms west of Winnipeg, Smith said he wasn’t sure what to expect in his first season of Junior A hockey in Manitoba.

Although he didn’t play as much as he might have liked to start the year, by the end of the year he had 11 goals and 22 points in 44 games.

“Really tough, guys are bigger, guys are stronger and just had to do my job. Wasn’t a goal scorer. Was mucking and grinding in the corners. Near the end, we had some injuries and it gave me some time to score. I ended off the season really well,” said Smith.

“Just enjoy it. When you’re 20-year-old you’re going to be out there. Just watch the game and learn from it.”

With a unique blend of size and speed, Smith is working diligently on the defensive side of the game and understands that is the key to playing more as a 16-year-old.

He picked up a brief feel for the WHL game when he earned a pair of recalls from the Rebels in January and early Feb.

“I think I can be an all-around good guy. I’m a good 200-foot player. I’m a good defensive player. So hopefully they trust me in our zone,” Smith said.

“Here in the WHL, you have to be in this spot at this time, so it’s just a defensive mindset you have to have.”

As the playoff buzz ramps up in Red Deer, the winger remembered what it was like to watch the run against the Lethbridge Hurricanes from the stands last year.

With five games left in the regular season, if the Rebels do make the postseason, the six-foot-two, 181-pound left winger is itching for a chance to get on the ice.

“I practiced with the team last year right before the playoffs and just the intensity in practices, it’s all about playoffs and the team,” Smith said.

“Nobody is playing for the number on the back, everything is about the crest on the front.”



Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

PHOTO: Red Deerians help feed the need at Ross Street barbecue

The sun came out for the sixth-annual Feed the Need community barbecue… Continue reading

Maxime Bernier reaches out to Red Deer

Voters looking at The People’s Party of Canada

Rocky-area widow pleads for better cardiac treatment for Central Albertans

Lillian Hay wonders if her late husband Grant would have survived with local cardiac catheterization

Festival of Trees lineup announced

Popular event has raised millions for Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre

Maskwacis Mall has gone solar

Ermineskin Cree Nation receives provincial funding for project

Live bear cam: Let the fishing begin

Watch bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park catch their dinner live.

Black communities seek cannabis amnesty as pot legalization nears

OTTAWA — Members of Canada’s black communities are praising the Liberals for… Continue reading

Goodale tours Ottawa area destroyed by tornado, says feds ready to provide help

DUNROBIN, Ont. — Canada’s public safety minister says the federal government is… Continue reading

Province reports first decrease in child welfare numbers in 15 years

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government says the number of kids in the… Continue reading

Woman says boyfriend pressed her to ‘produce a baby’

FARGO, N.D. — A North Dakota woman convicted of killing her pregnant… Continue reading

Defence focuses on behaviour of teen killed by Chicago cop

CHICAGO — Lawyers for a white Chicago police officer on trial for… Continue reading

Washington wants Canada to improve spill plan for U.S. spur of Trans Mountain

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington’s Department of Ecology wants the Canadian government to… Continue reading

National Transportation Safety Board to determine cause of Air Canada close call

Video captured the moment that an Air Canada jet flew off course… Continue reading

Most Read