The Rebels recently welcomed a local Red Deerian, centre Josh Tarzwell, to their lineup after trading away Detroit Red Wings prospect Lane Zablocki to the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Tarzwell, who is currently in his NHL draft year, comes to the Rebels having scored three goals and notching 11 assists for 14 points on the season.
Tarzwell, who played five years of minor hockey in Red Deer, was excited when he heard he was being traded to his home town.
“It was a really big surprise, but once I figured out it was Red Deer I was really happy to come and play for this team,” he said. “It was something I was thinking about. It is hard not to think about it when you are coming to the rink every Saturday night to watch these guys.”
Rebels Associate Coach Jeff Truitt sees 17-year-old Tarzwell as a building block for the struggling 10-19-5-2 Rebels.
“Having him here is adding positional depth to our centre position. He is a bigger body guy who has offensive upside.
“He is a real hard-worker and a very studious, heady player that understands systems real well,” Truitt said. “He is very motivated and fit right in since he first got here. He is a good fit for our locker room and his personality is second to none.”
Truitt said it was important for a team to have guys at centre who understand the game.
“At centre you always want to have good centre depth on your team and he adds to that. He has caught on to our systems real well and is improving all the time. It will take time and we know that, but he seems to be getting more comfortable.”
Tarzwell feels his offensive game will come as he gets more comfortable with his new teammates.
“I want to be more offensive-minded. I want to be thinking score and not just getting the puck on net. I want to be thinking ‘put it in the net’,” Tarzwell said.
Being more offensive-minded will no doubt help a Rebels squad which is generating chances, but not finishing.
“If we get that extra one here and there at key times, it will work in our favour. We are seeing really good signs of our team playing better not only defensively, but also generating opportunities. We just need to finish a bit more,” he said.
He added Tarzwell’s offence will come easier with a solid defensive game due to less time spent in the defensive zone.
“When he has the opportunity, we want him to shoot because he has a real good shot. The more shots he gets on net, the better it is for us,” Truitt said.
Truitt said the biggest thing he has learned from his new coach Brent Sutter is that he needs to help his team by being at least 70% on his face-offs.
“I have been watching him for all the years I have been here and it is super cool to play for him. He has really, really encouraged me to win draws.
“The more draws I win, the more I can help our team especially on penalty kill and the power-play,” Tarzwell said.
He added his draft stock will rise if he dials it in on the defensive end.
“We play a lot of man-on-man here and I have to find my guy and stick to him no matter where he goes. It is different but I like it,” he said.