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The secondary foot soldiers were front and centre for the Red Deer Rebels in Saturday’s 4-3 Western Hockey League win over the host Lethbridge Hurricanes. “It says a lot about their growth and their development,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, in reference to his third- and fourth-line forwards coming up huge in the contest.
Red Deer Rebels forwards Adam Musil and Grayson Pawlenchuk were considered to be prospects of varying calibres at the time of the 2012 WHL bantam draft. A year and a half later the talented teammates are both among the elite 16-year-olds in the league, a fact that was verified Thursday when both were named to Team Pacific for the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge Dec. 29-Jan. 4 in Cape Breton, N.S.
When the Red Deer Rebels coaching staff discussed naming a captain for the 2013-14 WHL season, Conner Bleackley was hardly an after-thought. Just the contrary, in fact. “He’s a presence guy and he was a unanimous choice as far as our staff was concerned to be our next captain,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said Tuesday, four days after appointing the second-year forward as the club’s official on-ice leader.
A front-office appointment will result in a change of address for Shaun Sutter. Sutter has been promoted from senior scout to Red Deer Rebels assistant general manager/director of player personnel and will eventually move from Calgary to Red Deer.
CRANBROOK — Maybe, just maybe, the Red Deer Rebels are finally ready to embrace the system installed by the coaching staff and the style of play needed to be successful. The Rebels, just two nights after being thumped 6-2 by the Kelowna Rockets, won their second game of a lengthy Western Hockey League road trip Friday, 3-0 over the Kootenay Ice in front of 2,908 fans at Western Financial Place.
The Red Deer Rebels have dipped into the junior A ranks for help more than once in their 21-year history. Forwards Matt Ellison, who came over from the BCHL in 2002 and scored 40 goals and garnered 96 points in his only season in Red Deer before turning pro, and Rhyse Dieno, who joined the Rebels from the SJHL one year ago and was the club’s top scorer at season’s end, come to mind.
KELOWNA — The Red Deer Rebels never gave themselves a chance Wednesday night. The Rebels, playing their fourth game in six nights, coughed up four unanswered first-period goals which proved to be the difference in a 6-2 Western Hockey League loss to the Kelowna Rockets before 4,621 fans at Prospera Place.
KAMLOOPS — The Red Deer Rebels’ so-called go-to guys have been no-show guys too often this season. That trend continued Tuesday as the Rebels dropped a 4-1 Western Hockey League decision to the Kamloops Blazers in front of 3,527 fans at Interior Savings Centre despite firing 37 shots at former Red Deer netminder Bolton Pouliot.
There’s not a single Red Deer Rebels player on the Team WHL roster for Sunway Super Series games against Team Russia Nov. 27 at the Centrium and 24 hours later at Lethbridge. That could change, however, as the roster that was revealed Monday isn’t complete. For example, just one goaltender — Eric Comrie of the Tri-City Americans — is on the list.
VICTORIA — The Red Deer Rebels didn’t follow up on Friday’s victory with another positive result 24 hours later, but they looked better in dropping a 3-1 Western Hockey League decision to the Victoria Royals. “We liked the way we played last night,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said Sunday. “The difference was with the specialty teams. They got two power-play goals early in the game and we had some power plays in the second and didn’t generate anything off of them.”
The Red Deer Rebels could use a puck-moving defenceman right about now — yesterday, actually — and Mathew Dumba would fit the bill nicely. But the Minnesota Wild will decide where Dumba will play this season and that decision may come later than sooner.
The Red Deer Rebels couldn’t handle success. Then again, they haven’t experienced much in the way of positive results in recent weeks and that trend continued Wednesday as the Kootenay Ice pulled out a 4-3 WHL shootout win before a recorded gathering of 4,209 at the Centrium.
The real Red Deer Rebels have to step up almost immediately and stop playing like imposters. The Rebels have come out on the short end of four consecutive Western Hockey League games and are situated near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. In the process, they’ve squandered the majority of a six-game homestand which concludes with tonight’s 7 p.m. clash with the Kootenay Ice.
In Brent Sutter’s eyes, Cole Chorney has a headstart on what should be a successful WHL career. “He’s a young guy finding his way in this league and finding out what it’s all about,” the Red Deer Rebels general manager/head coach said Thursday, in reference to the 17-year-old rookie forward.
The Red Deer Rebels aren’t as bad as they looked in weekend losses to the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings and Calgary Hitmen and can become a much more efficient team without making major changes. So says Rebels associate coach Jeff Truitt, who’s been around the Western Hockey League enough to know that now is no time to panic despite a 6-7-0-0 record that includes three consecutive losses.
The effort was better but the end result was the same. One night after turning in a putrid performance in a 4-0 WHL loss to the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings, the Red Deer Rebels had a little more jump in their stride Saturday at the Centrium. However, they fell well short once again, losing 5-2 to the Calgary Hitmen before 5,239 fans.
When one door closed, another door opened for Nick Charif. After suiting up for the midget AAA Edmonton Southside Athletics last season, the now 18-year-old defenceman took his hockey skills to the Victoria Grizzlys of the junior A BCHL, his long-term plans revolving around securing a scholarship to a U.S. university.
Evan Polei was convinced he had a future with the Saskatoon Blades. His immediate future is now with the Red Deer Rebels. The 17-year-old forward admitted Tuesday that he didn’t expect to be traded from the Blades to the Rebels last week.
If his hockey career doesn’t pan out, Kirk Bear could always turn to television. The Red Deer Rebels rookie defenceman was involved in a reality TV show — Hit the Ice — filmed in Ottawa in July, a youth series that features the best young aboriginal hockey player from across the country participating in physical training, on-ice drills and team-building activities.
The Red Deer Rebels wanted a physical presence to add to their crop of younger players; the Saskatoon Blades were seeking a forward with offensive ability. Accordingly, the Western Hockey League clubs agreed to a Thursday trade that involved forwards Cory Millette and Evan Polei. Millette, 18, was reassigned to the Estevan Bruins last week after two seasons with the Rebels and scored two goals and added an assist in two games with the SJHL club, while Polei, 17, was pointless in two games with the Blades this fall but carries 228 pounds on a six-foot-one frame.