The Red Deer Rebels have been on a hot streak of late and this past week they put that streak on the line against a very tough opponent – the student body at Ecole Mountview in Red Deer.
“It’s awesome. It’s just a great day for everyone,” said Rebels defenceman Mathew Dumba. “You get to come out here and play against these kids and kind of make their day.”
It’s been a traditional event where a select few of the Rebels don their game jerseys and trade in their regular sticks for the standard floor hockey variety which of course needs to be accordingly adjusted.
“Lift it up and give the plastic blade a little curve and it’s good to go,” said Devan Fafard. “Standard floor hockey, you’ve got to get a little bend in there.”
The day started in the school with an autograph session with the kids bringing in their jerseys, t-shirts, hats, sticks and pretty much anything else which could be signed.
Then it was down to business as the teams squared off in the school gym for a lunch hour battle of the blades which provides the players with a break from their Western Hockey League routine and the students get away from their desks for some exercise.
“Yeah it is. Kind of a nice little afternoon thing we can do before practice and we don’t always get to do this,” said Dumba.
“It does break things up,” agreed Fafard. “It’s nice to get out and do something different for sure.”
Now with dozens of students hitting the floor to face off against their heroes there might be the odd one who isn’t a Rebels supporter so the players need to have a strategy in order to handle that situation .
“You’ve got to do your best to convince them to cheer otherwise,” said Fafard.
Dumba was a little more direct in his solution to any anti-Rebel sentiment.
“We’re going to have to battle, get greasy.”
Anyone who has witnessed this event up close could easily describe it as being along the same line as herding cats but the players embrace the opportunity to give back to the community in this way and put a smile on the faces of several kids at the same time, possibly creating some new fans.
There is also a chance for some low scoring defensive types to feel the rush of putting one past a goalie, even if that goalie is only nine or 10 years old.
“Big chance to contribute offensively out there,” said Fafard.