Plenty to look forward to in coming Rebels season

“Obviously with Darcy Keumper moving on there’s big shoes to fill,” starts Rebels Head Coach Jesse Wallin. “But, having said that, (Patrik) Bartosak is looking pretty good.”

And that’s where things are most interesting for the Rebels. They have a replacement in mind for last season’s WHL player of the year. He’s Patrik Bartosak.

“He’s looked very good. He’s fit in very well. His English is very good and it seems like he’s amalgamated with his team very well.”

Comments like that should have Rebels fans standing and applauding. Rebels scouting department? Take a bow. The Czech-born Bartosak is gellin’ with his team. This is a good thing. The leadership and confidence Darcy Keumper provided in net should not be understated. If you are confident in your goalie it acts as a ripple effect for the rest of the team. And if Bartosak is working out then this is good.

Let’s not jump the gun though. Nothing is set in stone between the pipes.

“Dawson Guhle has actually had a pretty good camp,” Wallin says. “And the young Bolton Pouliot coming in, he’s actually having a really good camp as well.”

Talk about your embarrassment of riches.

“We’re confident with what we got there right now,” Wallin explains. “Obviously, we need someone to step into that number one role. And that’s something that we’ll make a decision on pretty soon.”

The Rebels have almost completed training camp. They have two more exhibition games left and both are here at the Enmax Centrium. There second last exhibition game is against the Edmonton Oil Kings and then they face the Medicine Hat Tigers the very next night. By that time the starting goalie to open this season should be known.

Moving forward, there are seven Rebels who will be attending NHL pro camps. Byron Froese will be at the Chicago Black Hawks camp. John Persson will be at the Islanders camp. Alex Petrovic will be soaking up the sun in Florida. Same goes for Justin Weller and Adam Kambeitz who will both be at the Coyotes training camp in Phoenix.

And finally Turner Elson and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be staying Alberta at Flames and Oilers camps.

What that leaves is a lot of young talent. Some would say unproven talent but Wallin likes what he’s seeing so far.

“The depth that it looks like we have in our young group. We’re gonna have few new faces this year and it’s nice to see those kids come in and play well.

“It’s good that those guys came in and showed that they can play,” Wallin said. “I’m just excited about the young guys. You have hopes for them and you hope they can come in and do the job. And so far they’ve shown they can do that.”

We know that the defense is solid in Red Deer. Matt Dumba leads maybe the best defensive core in the WHL. Wallin has an abundance of talent in net. And as far as losing talented players like Ryan Nugent–Hopkins and Andrej Kudrna? The Rebels are very confident in their upcoming talent.

This leads to the question — is this the year the Rebels win the Ed Chynoweth Cup?

“Our goal right now is just to go into the season and have a good start.”

Wallin doesn’t make predictions. But, cool as a cucumber in the snow, Wallin does have a goal in mind.

“Our goal is to win a championship. That hasn’t changed. We’ve got that goal in mind and we’re going to work towards that.”

Rebels fans — if you were excited last year, this year’s installment of the Red Deer Rebels should have you salivating again.

sports@reddeerexpress.com

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