Rebels still confident despite first half performance

We continue to look back at the first half of the Rebels season.

For the Red Deer Rebels, it’s hard to pinpoint where their problems lie.

But according to Head Coach Jesse Wallin, it is not a defense issue. The defense has been solid even with the loss of veteran Aaron Borejko. Borejko is part of the top four defenseman with Red Deer’s club. “He’s a 20-year-old guy, a veteran presence back there. (He) eats up some minutes on the penalty kill and plays against the top line.”

But Wallin isn’t making excuses, he’s got a solid group of defensemen back there, including Alex Petrovic, Matt Dumba and Justin Weller.

“Weller’s had a very steady season for us, Petrovic for the most part has been pretty good. He’s had a bit of a stretch in late November where he got away from his game a bit, but yet those two are very elite players and are a huge part of our team. And overall they’ve been very good.”

As Wallin accesses his defense, he has nothing but confidence. He doesn’t seem concerned with the future D-men in Red Deer. The young bunch is stepping up now. “Looking at the young kids, I think they’ve all played really well for the most part.”

Clearly the defense is not a huge concern for the Red Deer Rebels as they look to make a playoff run. Where their true issues lie is in their offense. Scoring is not what it was last year. “Up front it’s been a little difficult to evaluate based on the amount of guys that have been missing.”

Without the likes of scorers such as Brett Ferguson, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adrej Kudrna, and more, the Rebels have had to rely on the likes of Turner Elson, leading scorer John Persson and winger Colten Mayer.

“His production has been kind of what we expected. He’s an 18-year-old that we knew we were going to need some offence from and I think he’s taken that step. His maturity has improved this year.”

If scoring is one issue, another issue the Rebels faced was losing their leader. Long time captain Colin Archer was gone and the Rebels needed a leader. They turned to fourth year winger Adam Kambietz, who, according to Wallin has shined in the position.

“Kamby really took the bull by the horns as our captain. He has had a real good year to date up until he got hurt.”

Losing Kambeitz to a wrist injury left a different gap — scoring and someone on the ice to lead by example.

It’s no surprise the team’s 13-game losing skid occurred while Kambeitz was out of the lineup.

A significant problem with the skid was when Wallin took the ‘A’ (alternate captain) badges off Petrovic and Dumba. Perhaps a bold move by the head coach but something he felt had to be done to send a message

“A couple situations that took place that I think our captains let slide. It wasn’t a curfew issue, but we’re an organization that takes great pride in our discipline.” And it was a small detail, that Wallin did not mention, that led to ripping the As off Dumba and Petrovic for two games.

But since going two games without the alternate captaincy, Wallin assures us and them that he believes in his players and leadership.

“We feel we have a very strong leadership group. I have no problem with their ability. It was just to send a message that that’s what’s expected from them and we need it every day.”

For part two of the Rebels 2011-2012 season, they will have to battle through their injuries to get back to normal.