The Red Deer Rebels have placed their winless Western Hockey League preseason behind them and are sharply focused on the first of the ‘real’ contests, namely Friday’s regular-season opener versus the visiting Calgary Hitmen.
“The preseason serves a purpose, but at the end of the day it’s the preseason,” Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin said on Tuesday, following the club’s kick-off dinner at the Westerner Frontier Room.
The Rebels were 0-6 in their slate of exhibition contests despite having every opportunity to win their last three outings, all of which they dropped by a single goal.
“During the preseason you’re evaluating your team in regards to the personnel,” said Wallin.
“You’re trying to identify the strengths and weaknesses as you’re going into the regular season. We’ve worked on some things over the last two weeks and it’s going to remain a work in progress for awhile.
“You’re never where you want to be, you’re always pushing to be better and there are certainly some areas we want to be better at.
“But the preseasaon is over and done with, you put it behind you and move forward. Everyone is at zeros and everyone is equal. The focus now is on getting prepared for Friday, playing as well as we can and getting a win.”
l Overage forward Adam Kambeitz will return as the Rebels captain for the 2012-13 season, with Turner Elson and Mathew Dumba retaining their assistant captain roles with one more ‘A’ to be determined . . . Forward Wyatt Johnson, who was added to the roster last week, is with the club although he’s unable to play while recovering from a concussion. “He’s making progress but he won’t be in for the weekend (which includes a Sunday afternoon date with the host Edmonton Oil Kings),” said Wallin. “In a perfect world, he’d be ready to skate by Monday and could then start the five-day concussion protocol.” Johnson collected 45 points (13g,31a) in 42 regular-season games with the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers in 2011-12. He attended the Vancouver Giants camp and the Rebels recently picked him up in exchange for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2013 WHL bantam draft . . . The Rebels will appear on Shaw TV broadcasts on four dates this season — Nov. 30, Jan. 26 and Feb. 15 at home versus the Medicine Hat Tigers, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Victoria Royals, and March 16 at Lethbridge . . . The Vancouver Giants didn’t waste any time in contacting potential hockey fans upon learning that the NHL lockout was officially on. Giants majority owner Ron Toigo announced that the club is reducing all upper-bowl red seats at Pacific Coliseum by $4 for the first three games of the regular-season. Reds, which are normally $19, will be available for $15. The new season begins Friday with the Victoria Royals in opposition. “We want people to re-discover what the Giants are all about,” Toigo told the Vancouver Sun. “We want everybody to come and take another look at us, see the quality of play and see some of the great stars of the future.”