HOCKEY HISTORY - The Red Deer Rebels mascot with young fans during a family skate at the Westerner’s Centrium.

A history of the Red Deer Rustlers and Rebels

This year marks an important milestone in Red Deer sports history

It was 25 years ago, in 1992, that the Red Deer Rebels hockey team was formed. They have been the pride of our community ever since.

The Rebels followed another notable community hockey team, the Red Deer Rustlers. That team was formed 50 years ago in 1967.

The original intent was to have the Rustlers become part of the recently formed Western Canada Junior Hockey League. However, the Alberta Amateur Hockey Association opposed such a move. The Rustlers consequently became part of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (A.J.H.L.) instead.

The Red Deer team quickly became a powerhouse in the A.J.H.L.

They won the League championship in 1969-1970.

In 1970-1971, they also won the Abbott Cup as the Alberta/British Columbia Junior A hockey champions. They then went on to defeat the Charlottetown Islanders to become the inaugural winners of the Centennial Cup (Manitoba Centennial Trophy), the symbol of the Canadian Junior A national hockey championship.

The Rustlers won the A.J.H.L. championship and the Abbott Cup again in 1971-1972.

In 1973-1974, they won the A.J.H.L. once more, giving them the notable distinction of being the provincial Junior A hockey champions for four years out of five.

The Rustlers surged again in the 1979-1980 season when they won the A.J.H.L. championship, Abbott Cup and national Centennial Cup.

They were the repeat provincial champions in 1984-1985. After a one year lapse in 1985-1986 with a reorganization of team ownership, they again became provincial league winners in both 1986-1987 and 1988-1989.

However, in this latter season, the Rustlers faced serious management problems and major difficulties with the League. After a two-year long hiatus, the Rustler organization was formally disbanded in 1992.

Meanwhile, the Westerner Exposition Association had been working diligently to build a major coliseum and exhibition complex on the Westerner grounds on the south side of the City.

Because the project was considered very important to Central Alberta and because construction commenced during the Westerner’s centennial year (1991-1992), the facility was named the Centrium.

The Centrium made it possible to form a new community hockey team for Red Deer, this time with the Western Canadian Hockey League (later renamed the Western Hockey League or WHL). The owner of this new franchise was Terry Simpson with Wayne Simpson acting as the general manager and Peter Anholt as the head coach.

In October 1991, a ‘Name That Team’ contest was held and garnered more than 1,000 entries. While Centurions, a name reflective of the new coliseum, was seriously considered, the team’s management preferred the name ‘Rebels’.

The Rebels’ first game was played against the Prince Albert Raiders on Sept. 25th, 1992. Fan support was excellent. By early January 1993, the Rebels were attracting sell-out crowds of nearly 6,500.

In 1999, the Rebels were purchased by Brent Sutter, who, along with several of his brothers, had played with the former Red Deer Rustlers team.

In 2001, the Rebels won the WHL championship and then went on to win the Memorial Cup, the national junior hockey championship. In 2016, the Rebels had the honour of being the host team to the MasterCard Memorial Cup and made it as far as the semi-finals in the tournament.

Just Posted

Motown Soul celebrates ‘greats’ of classic era

Show pays tribute to Diana Ross and The Supremes, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye among others

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

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

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

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

Fierce house cat spotted as ‘aggressor’ in face off with coyote in B.C. backyard

North Vancouver resident Norm Lee captures orange cat versus coyote in backyard showdown

Wilson-Raybould to reveal more details, documents on SNC-Lavalin affair

Former attorney general has written to the House of Commons justice committee

Anti-discrimination group wants to map offenders with cross-Canada hate atlas

Morgane Oger Foundation issues call for volunteers to help build Canadian Atlas of Populist Extremism

GM announces jobs, electric vehicle after Trump criticism

The company says it will spend $300 million at its plant in Orion Township

Trucker who caused Broncos crash likely to be deported: lawyer

The Crown has asked that Sidhu serve 10 years in prison

China chemical plant blast kills 47, injures hundreds more

This is one of China’s worst industrial accidents in recent years

Most Read