FIRST IMPRESSIONS - From right

Rookies impress at Rebels pre-season tourney

  • Sep. 7, 2016 2:17 p.m.

The Red Deer Rebels’ young crop of rookies weren’t going to sit back during their first opportunity to impress Head Coach and General Manager Brent Sutter last weekend.

A young squad of Rebels hopefuls and veterans jumped at the chance to show their skills during a pre-season tournament hosted by the Rebs at the ENMAX Centrium last Friday and Saturday, splitting their two games at the tourney.

“We had some opportunities,” said Sutter after a 6-4 loss to the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday. Sutter’s team also put up a 6-1 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings on Friday night.

The Prince George Cougars was the fourth and final team in attendance at the tournament, which simply allowed the WHL teams to get their players into game situations before NHL camps start up later this month.

Sutter said he was impressed with the way that some of the younger players, including some of the 16-year-olds were able to compete with the veterans on the Hitmen and Oil Kings rosters.

“I thought that some of our young kids struggled in the first period, but then after they got caught up with the pace — tonight was a much different level of game than it was last night,” Sutter said after the Calgary game, which saw the Rebels’ young players really get to see how an elite WHL team plays.

“We’ve seen a lot more veterans in the lineup tonight. We played this team in playoffs last year and we know what type of players these guys have and the compete level and how quick they can be.”

Sutter added he thought the team’s young players adapted well to the Hitmen’s speed.

“It took them probably a period and a half to adjust to what the pace was like and the way they have to play. I thought they got better.”

Among the Rebels rookies that stood out, Sutter said, was 16-year-old winger Brandon Cutler, who had a goal in each of the two games the team played last weekend.

“Cutler was outstanding again. For a 16-year-old he’s certainly making a push here, which is good to see,” said the coach, adding that the six-foot tall Spruce Grove native is currently one of the front-runners as final cuts loom on the horizon.

“I’m coming as an underdog, coming ninth-round here. Just looking to show that I should have went a lot lower in the draft. I think I deserved to go as a first or second or third round pick. But I think I’m earning my way,” said Cutler, who was taken by the Rebels in the eighth round, 192nd overall in the 2015 WHL bantam draft.

The rookie forward added that the relatively low selection has created somewhat of a chip on his shoulder and he’s out to prove that he can be a force in the Rebels’ WHL lineup.

“I just got back from an injury not too long ago. I lost 30 pounds or whatever but it doesn’t matter. No excuses, right?”

As it turns out, Cutler, along with the rest of the rookies, may be called upon to step up in a big way for the Rebels, as fan favourite veteran forward Evan Polei, one of the team’s 20-year-old players, left Saturday night’s game with what Sutter described as an upper-body injury.

“He’ll be out for a bit,” Sutter said.

Polei, who worked his way into the hearts of Rebels’ fans last season thanks to a very strong playoff campaign, solidified his status as a local hero after scoring a dramatic overtime winner against Brandon at last season’s Memorial Cup tournament.

The Wetaskiwin native was slated to join teammate Adam Musil at the St. Louis Blues rookie camp later this month.

Sutter did not give a timeline for Polei’s return to the ice.

Other Rebels rookies who made contributions included import defender Alexander Alexeyev (1G, 2A), and prospects D-Jay Jerome (1G, 1A) and Austin Schellenberg (2A).

zcormier@reddeerexpress.com

Just Posted

Women of Excellence Awards introduces ‘Women of Excellence in Construction’

Gala will take place June 19th at the Sheraton Red Deer

Check online to make sure you’re registered to vote in upcoming provincial election

Advance polls open Tuesday, April 9th to Saturday, April 13th

UPDATE: Christy Starling has been found

Red Deer RCMP thank the public for their assistance

Red Deer Legion Pipe Band celebrates National Tartan Day

The band is raising money for their trip to Scotland in 2020

Sharon and Bram head to Red Deer on final tour

The duo is celebrating their 40th anniversary farewell tour

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

New Leger polls suggests federal Liberals lagging Conservatives

Overall, 31 per cent of respondents polled said they would vote for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals

Teen girl accused in plot to attack Kamloops school with weapons out on bail

Judge warned the girl she would be back in jail if she threatened to shoot anyone

Oil prices, Alberta election call cloud Stampede chuckwagon auction expectations

The top money bid last year came from Versatile Energy Services, Ltd.

Lacombe hosts 6th Invasive Species Council Conference at LMC

Council looks to protect native ecological environments in Alberta

Pot industry welcomes decreased edibles tax, but unhappy medical tax remains

Taxes can increase the cost of medical cannabis by as much as 25 per cent

‘It has to send a message:’ Broncos families await sentencing for truck driver

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu pleaded guilty to 29 counts of dangerous driving and apologized in court

MPs continue voting marathon as Tories protest shutdown of Wilson-Raybould motion

Multiple MPs have resigned from Trudeau’s Liberal cabinet

Carbon tax, oil and gas investment dominate Day 2 of Alberta campaign

NDP pledges more oil and gas processing, UCP slams provincial and federal governments on carbon tax

Most Read