The Red Deer Rebels are going into their Christmas break at .500.
Not where they expected to be considering at one point in their season they were 9-3 and sitting atop the Eastern Conference. Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin looks back at the first half of the season, starting with his goaltending.
“I think Patty (Patrick Bartosak) came in and established himself as a bona fide goaltender in our league. He had a great first half and he’s just a very, very solid goaltender.”
Bartosak from Koprivnice, Czech Republic, is making an easy adjustment.
“From an import point of view typically it’s a bit of an adjustment period coming over to a different culture,” explains Wallin. “And it just feels like with him he’s been here forever, he just fits right in. In his case, we’re very, very happy with him.”
The backup goaltending Bolton Pouliot has signs of competency but Wallin thinks Pouliot has another gear. “I think he’s shown at times he’s capable of playing in the league, yet I think there’s another level there for him to hit.”
And now we have news of Bartosak’s upper body injury which will have him out a minimum of six weeks. Wallin really felt bad for the exciting import goalie.
“I’m really devastated for him; he was just devastated when he heard the news. You just want to give him a hug and hope you can take it (the pain) away from him. But it’s part of the game and as players we’ve all gone through all those situations.”
That said the show must go on, and the Rebels went out and picked up a solid, new number one goalie to fill the gap — Deven Dubyk.
Dubyk is no stranger to the Rebels, he’s actually played against them as a Medicine Hat Tiger and as a Moose Jaw Warrior. Dubyk is also an old man in Western Hockey league years — he’s 20!
Wallin is excited to have Dubyk.
“He played very, very well against us last year when we saw him a couple of times against Medicine Hat but he’s been in the league for a couple of years, he’s been a starting goaltender at times. He’s going to bring that veteran presence and experience in goal.”
Dubyk won his first game as a Red Deer Rebel, helping break a 13-game losing skid. Perhaps this bet is paying off the Rebels organization.