It’s that time of year again. No, not back to school, but that’s coming all too soon, or not soon enough for parents. No, it’s hockey season. Yup, it’s starting up real soon and our Red Deer Rebels will be going strong starting on Aug. 27th.
Gone from last season are winger Brett Ferguson, who will be going to the University of Alberta. Captain and defenseman Colin Archer, whose headed to McGill University and of course there is last season’s WHL player of the year, Darcy Keumper who’s heading the Minnesota Wild.
“You knew going in that those guys weren’t going to be back.” said Rebels Director of Media relations Cam Moon.
Also, not coming back will be Andrej Kudrna. “He signed to play pro hockey in the Slovak.”
And what about the highest drafted Red Deer Rebel in team history, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? “A lot of Rebels fans in Central Alberta will be watching anxiously to see whether he plays with the Edmonton Oilers this season or with the Red Deer Rebels,” said Moon.
So that leaves some gaps to be filled this season, even if Nugent-Hopkins returns. Players needed to step up will be 2010 draft picks Kayle Doetzel and Cory Millette. “Those are guys to definitely watch out for,” said Moon. “In net, it’s going to be an interesting battle. The Red Deer Rebels picked up a goalie in the CHL import draft, Patrick Bartosak. I’m sure there will be a lot of eyes on him to see what type of netminder he is.”
And there will be others to watch out for when training camp begins.
As for leadership Moon said any number of players could be the next captain of the Rebels. “I think a lot of guys are possible. I don’t know which one will be the guy when it’s all said and done.”
Amongst those who could be captain include Nugent-Hopkins, Alex Petrovic, and Adam Kambeitz, to name a few.
“From year to year, guys can make amazing strides in their development.” And that’s what makes WHL hockey so fascinating.
Those strides will be on display in all their glory Aug. 31 at the annual Black and White game at the Centrium, starting at 7 p.m.
“It’s a good opportunity for fans to get a sneak preview of the Red Deer Rebels this year,” said Moon. And it’s a great way to see how well some of those fresh faces will fill the big skates left behind.