It didn’t take long for Dexter Bricker to make an impression with the Red Deer Rebels fans Tuesday.
His first shift against the Medicine Hat Tigers the 16-year-old native of Saskatoon, who plays midget AAA with the Swift Current Legionnaires, laid out two members of the Tigers on the same check.
“That’s my game . . .. banging and crashing and getting the puck to the other guys and getting it out of our zone,” he said.
“I could see that if I didn’t have the cage on I may have been in a fight as well, but I do love taking the body.”
That’s something Rebels head coach/GM Jesse Wallin loves as well.
“I see him as an energy guy. He’s played a couple of games with us and has played real well. He’s a physical player who gets under the opposition’s skin. Last night (Tuesday) he finished a couple of checks and was a presence. He also doesn’t lack confidence and wants to play and wants to be on the ice, which is good to see. He’s going to be that type of player for us down the road.”
Bricker took a regular shift against the Tigers and is expected to do the same tonight when the Rebels host the Kootenay Ice in Western Hockey League play at 7 p.m. at the Centrium.
“I love coming up and playing with the big club,” he said.
“I’m getting some ice time and each game I’m getting more confidence. I feel like I can do more with the puck, make better plays and get a little stronger. I want to build on what I have and this opportunity to make the team next year.”
The five-foot-11, 170-pound left winger was overlooked in the WHL bantam draft, which didn’t sit well with him at the time.
“I was upset at the time, but I quickly realized it was in my hands if I wanted to go on and I worked hard in the gym and came here and proved myself.”
Bricker was anything but small (five-foot-nine, 150-pounds) during his draft season. And while he wasn’t picked he didn’t go under the radar of several scouts.
“I had 15 options, but (Rebels head scout) Randy Peterson invited me here and I thought it was a good option. I came here during my first midget year and they listed me and I went from there.”
Bricker is in his second season with Swift Current and has three goals, 11 assists and 60 minutes in penalties in 27 games.
“I got off to a shaky start as the coaches and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on some things, but we’re getting used to each other and it’s starting to shape up. I feel we can make a good run in the playoffs.”
The Legionnaires are tied with the Saskatoon Blazers for fifth in the Saskatchewan league and just missed out in making the Calgary Mac’s tournament.
“We’re played one more game than they did, so they got the nod,” explained Bricker.
The Blazers lost 5-0 to the Red Deer Optimist Rebels Tuesday.
Bricker attended the last two Rebels fall camps and felt he fit in.
“I had a good camp and I really like the guys and the coaching staff.”
There’s no indication as to how long Bricker will be with the Rebels, but knows he’ll take back a lot of experience.
“The practices here are a big change, plus the game is so much faster. I know on the half-wall you have to chip it out right away while in midget you can two or three seconds to make a decision. You find that players in midget just aren’t as fast or as strong.”
The Rebels are still without forwards Josh Cowen, Daulton Siwak and Adam Kambeitz and defenceman Aaron Borejko with upper body injuries and forward Cory Millette and defenceman Kayle Doetzel are with Team West at the World U17 Challenge.
Wallin said it was doubtful any of the injured would be back tonight, although there’s a slim chance Siwak will dress.
• In other WHL news the Spokane Chiefs traded leading scorer Anthony Bardaro to Prince Albert for goaltender Eric Williams and 18-year-old forward Todd Fiddler.
The Chiefs also sent backup netminder Luke Lee-Knight and a fifth round bantam pick to the Raiders.