Saturday, 31 October 2015

Top and Bottom 5s

I've decided to combine the two lists into one blog this time, the data has been much easier to sort. Please find the lists below! My numbers do not line up exactly with but the site is a great source for information as well.

Shooting Percentage
Top 5
1. Lethbridge Hurricanes - 13.54%
2. Moose Jaw Warriors - 12.32%
3. Prince Albert Raiders - 12.24%
4T. Kelowna Rockets - 12.11%
4T. Saskatoon Blades - 12.11%
Bottom 5
1. Edmonton Oil Kings - 7.16%
2. Everett Silvertips - 7.31%
3. Kootenay Ice - 8.05%
4. Swift Current Broncos - 8.20%
5. Prince George Cougars - 8.31%

Save Percentage
Top 5
1. Portland Winterhawks - .929%
2. Victoria Royals - .926%
3T. Moose Jaw Warriors - .925%
3T. Everett Silvertips - .925%
5. Prince George Cougars - .915%
Bottom 5
1. Calgary Hitmen - .869%
2. Medicine Hat Tigers - .871%
3. Tri-City Americans - .874%
4. Vancouver Giants - .878%
5. Kamloops Blazers - .879%

Shots For Per Game
Top 5
1. Brandon Wheat Kings - 41.2
2. Medicine Hat Tigers - 35.25
3. Red Deer Rebels - 34.20
4. Edmonton Oil Kings - 33.533
5. Moose Jaw Warriors - 32.462
Bottom 5
1. Calgary Hitmen - 27.867
2. Kootenay Ice - 27.938
3. Spokane Chiefs - 29.429
4. Saskatoon Blades - 29.5
5. Kamloops Blazers - 30.077

Shots Againsts Per Game
Top 5
1. Brandon Wheat Kings - 24.133
2. Seattle Thunderbirds - 25.364
3. Victoria Royals - 27.8
4. Calgary Hitmen - 28.067
5. Red Deer Rebels - 28.2
Bottom 5
1. Swift Current Broncos - 37.571
2T. Moose Jaw Warriors - 35.846
2T. Regina Pats - 35.846
4. Kootenay Ice - 35.438
5. Portland Winterhawks - 34.615

Goals For Per Game
Top 5
1. Lethbridge Hurricanes - 4.38
2. Brandon Wheat Kings - 4.07
3. Moose Jaw Warriors - 4.00
4. Prince Albert Raiders - 3.87
5. Kelowna Rockets - 3.86
Bottom 5
1. Edmonton Oil Kings 1.60
2. Everett Silvertips 2.20
3. Kootenay Ice - 2.25
4. Swift Current Broncos - 2.50
5. Calgary Hitmen 2.60

Goals Against Per Game 
Top 5
1. Victoria Royals - 2.07
2. Seattle Thunderbirds - 2.27
3. Everett Sivlertips - 2.30
4. Portland Winterhawks - 2.47
5. Brandon Wheat Kings - 2.52
Bottom 5
1. Vancouver Giants - 4.14
2. Kootenay Ice - 4.13
3. Spokane Chiefs - 4.00
4. Medicine Hat Tigers - 3.92
5. Tri-City Americans - 3.71

Friday, 30 October 2015

Every Other Year: Game Day #15

The first of 5 US Division teams make their way to the Centrium

Spokane Chiefs (5-7-1-1) 12pts. AT Red Deer Rebels (10-4-0-0) 20 pts.

I am no one really in the WHL world, I barely make a dent in the fan base in Red Deer let alone the entire league but if I had a say in only 1 thing in this league, it would be that every team plays every other team at least once in each arena. I know that it is difficult with the way the league is laid out geographically and it is not economical but that would be my one and only wish.

The Rebels come in to tonight's contest winners of their last 5 games. They are also undefeated on home ice, going a solid 7-0-0-0 at the Centrium. 35 of their 55 goals have also come in the cozy confines of home. The team is in a 3 way tie points wise with Lethbridge and Brandon for 2nd overall in the WHL based on points.

The Chiefs drove up the QE2 following a 6-3 win in Calgary last night over the Hitmen. Spokane has not had a great start to this young season and are currently 2-6-1-1 in their last 10 games. The Chiefs are 3-4-1-0 away from Veterans Memorial Center in Spokane, WA.

Jaret Anderson-Dolan - Chiefs Twitter
Spokane brings with them Kailer Yamamoto, a 17 year old from Spokane, WA. He 57 points in 68 games a rookie last season and has continued to score points this season. he has put up 17 points (2G, 15A) in 14 games. He already has two 3 point games this season. Overage Defenseman Jason Fram is in his 5th season with the club and is their Captain. He enters the night with 11 points on the back end in his 14 games. Keep an eye on 16 year old rookie Jaret Anderson-Doyle, he is expected to be among the rookie scoring leaders this year and a top choice in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He has 4 goals and 2 assists so far this year.

Red Deer's two imports players continue to light it up for the Rebels this year. Ivan Nikolishin leads the team in goals with 10 and points with 22. He has points in 3 straight games and has only been held off the scoresheet twice all season. Michael Spacek has 7 goals and 14 assists on the year and also has points in 3 straight. He has only been pointless in one game through 14.

Haydn Fleury -
Haydn Fleury is expected to return to the line up following his 2 game suspension. He has a 4 game point streak heading into tonight's action. Jeff de Wit and Evan Polei could be game time decisions based on their day-to-day status following injuries to both players in games last weekend. Ryan Pouliot has been returned to the roster following his recent injury. Braden Purtill will get his first chance to play his former teammates.

Tri-City currently lists Brandon Carlo, D, out for 2 weeks, Riley Hillis, D, out indefinitely and Austyn Playfair, F, out 1 week. 2 players will also be attending the U17 challenge, Kyle Olson and Michael Rasmussen.

Look for tonight's starting goaltenders to be Rylan Toth for Red Deer (7-3-0-0, 2.90GAA, .899 sv%) and  Tyson Verhelst for Spokane (5-5-0-1, 3.31GAA, .891 sv%)

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Player Profiles: Austin Pratt

Every now and then throughout the season, I will be writing a short blog about a player on the Rebels, he could be a rookie, an import, or just someone who I've maybe noticed hasn't gotten a lot of coverage in the WHL media.

Today's blog will be about Red Deer Rebels rookie forward Austin Pratt. He was drafted by the team in the 4th round of the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft. Before he was drafted into the WHL, there were many folks who considered Pratt to be a 1st or 2nd round talent but the fact he was from Lakeville, Minnesota meant he may choose the NCAA route. It would be up to the coaches and staff of the Rebels to convince him that Red Deer was the premier destination for his development.

Austin Pratt Shattuck St. Mary's
A 30 mile drive from home would take Austin to the beginning of his 2017 NHL Draft aspirations. Shattuck-St.Mary's hockey program has put forward some top NHL talent including Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby. Austin spent 2 seasons with the program, his first year with the Bantam tier 1 team as a 14 year old. He registered 30 goals and 43 assists in 65 games with the team. In his midget (U16) season he played in 55 games, potting 20 goals and adding 32 helpers. His Midget team won the national championship last year.

After showcasing his skills with SSM, Austin was being courted by NCAA teams and was considered a top 2018 college class prospect. He was also being looked at to be a top draft pick in the 2014 USHL draft. Leaving these options and selecting the Canadian Hockey League (more exactly the WHL) would mean foregoing his amateur status and the ability to play in the NCAA. He then signed with the Rebels on April 10, 2015.

Austin made a good showing in the preseason, with 4 goals and an assist. He also had a really good training camp with the team. This earned him a spot on the opening day roster as a 16 year old. He has been playing mostly 4th line minutes, which has seen him with line mates such as Jeff de Wit, Reese Johnson, Lane Pederson and Brandon Hagel. Austin has 2 goals and 2 assists in 12 games and is a very responsible +3. He scored his first regular season WHL goal on October 3rd against the Kelowna Rockets. Austin doesn't back down from the tough spots or opponents, he has shown a willingness to mix it up in front of the net as well as dig for loose pucks in the corners. He is also a good skater, as he has showcased when on the ice with some of Red Deer's big guns like Conner Bleackley and Grayson Pawlenchuk.

Austin Pratt - Red Deer Rebels
What does the future hold for Austin? Will he be similar to a Shane McColgan or a Brian Williams, 16 year old american born players who have carved their own path through the WHL? Or will he be another player that doesn't live up to the hype in the WHL? One thing that is for sure, he has already won the hearts of many fans here in Red Deer as he competes every second he is one the ice. I am quite certain he will carve a spot in Rebel lore for years to come and will succeed with every opportunity that Brent Sutter gives him to excel. Give the future superstar a follow on Twitter @AJPratt14

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

WHL Power Rankings #2

Welcome to the second edition of the WHL Power Rankings. Some media and bloggers throughout the league have joined me in creating a ranking of the WHL teams by their conference. Today will be the second edition of the Rankings. Let's get to it! All records are since the last rankings on October 11th, 2015. Thank you to the members who contributed to the write-ups and everyone for their votes.

Eastern Conference Rankings

1T. Prince Albert Raiders - 100pts. (6-0-0-0) - A successful road trip through the US Division is ridiculously hard to accomplish and the Raiders did. Time to consider them as the real deal? We're almost there. (UP 5)
1T. Brandon Wheat Kings - 100pts. (5-1-0-0) - Need to find a way to stay hungry all year when they could just turn it on in February. (EVEN)
3. Red Deer Rebels - 92pts. (5-2-0-0) - They could upgrade their goaltending duo, their defence is touch 'n go, another injury could derail them. (EVEN)
4. Lethbridge Hurricanes - 83pts. (4-0-0-0) - Could be higher, have only beaten 1 team ahead of them in the standings. Still better than expected, this team is for real. (UP 1)
5. Moose Jaw Warriors - 74pts. (3-3-0-0) - Is the recent slide a sign of them coming back to Earth? (DOWN 2)
6. Calgary Hitmen - 62 pts. (2-5-0-0) - Injuries taking their toll, standings are not reflective of how good they are when healthy. (DOWN 5)
7. Saskatoon Blades - 54pts. (3-2-0-0) - Better than they have been in years but still a work in progress. (EVEN)
8. Regina Pats - 43 pts. (3-2-1-0) - After a rough start the Pats are still finding their footing. (UP 2)
9. Swift Current Broncos - 36pts. (2-3-1-0) - Aquiring Jon Martin from Kootenay proving to be a brilliant move. Bow keeping them in games. (UP 2)
10. Medicine Hat Tigers - 30pts. (2-3-0-0) - Addition of Lotz will pay off, injuries hurting them even more than the Hitmen. (DOWN 1)
11. Edmonton Oil Kings - 20pts. (0-4-1-0) - Work hard and are in every game but can't put the puck in the net. 5-game losing streak, last 4 were at home. (DOWN 3)
12. Kootenay Ice - 9pts. (1-4-1-0) - Worst team in the East, no signs of improvement on the horizon. (EVEN)

Western Conference Rankings

1. Kelowna - 67 pts. -(4-1-0-0) The Rockets’ team defense has improved since their roller coaster start and does not seem to be the weakness it looked like to start the year. Jackson Whistle shut out Calgary and is rounding into form. (EVEN)
2. Seattle 66 pts. - (4-1-0-0) The T-birds got Barzal back from the Islanders and they instantly won six games in a row. That streak was ended by Carter Hart and Everett, but it still has placed Seattle in first in the U.S. by a five point margin. (UP 3) 
3. Victoria 55 pts. - (1-4-0-0) The Royals ended a four game skid with a shut out from Outhouse in his first start of the season. One has to think he will start spelling Vollrath a little more often. (DOWN 1) 
4. Portland 45 pts. -(4-2-0-0) The surging Winterhawks have won three in a row and WHL goalie of the week Adin Hill is a big reason why. He had two shut outs over the weekend and now leads the league with three on the season. (UP 4) 
5. Everett 43 pts. - (2-1-0-0) Hart stoned Seattle on Sat. but more scoring from their younger, depth players is likely needed for the Tips to make a run this year. (DOWN 2) 
6. Prince George 37 pts. - (4-2-0-0) Jesse Gabrielle was named WHL player of the week this week after notching seven points this week. Could he be the star P.G. has been looking for ever since Brett Connolly was there? (UP 2)

7. Spokane 25 pts. - (1-3-1-0) Was the 2-1 defensive win last week over Victoria an anomaly? After giving up 12 goals over two games to P.A. and Kamloops, the Chiefs certainly hope not. (EVEN)

8. Tri-City 20 pts. - (1-5-0-0) The Americans are scoring more this year and never seem to be out of a game. But they need to stop falling behind big in the first place. (DOWN 2) 
9. Vancouver 19 pts. -  (1-3-0-0) The Giants got their star center Tyler Benson back, but still lost consecutive 3-1 games on the weekend and are struggling scoring goals and have now lost three in a row. (DOWN 4)
10. Kamloops 7pts. - (3-2-0-0)The cellar dwellers once again on the list, and their GM resigned, so yeah, things are not looking good for the Blazers. Is it time for the fan-base to just concentrate on how many former Blazers they can get on the WHL's Top 50 players of all time list? (EVEN) 


Friday, 23 October 2015

Time to Tame the Tigers Game Day #13

Red Deer's arch nemesis, Medicine Hat makes its first trip to the Enmax Centrium.

Medicine Hat Tigers (4-4-1-0) 9pts. AT Red Deer Rebels (8-4-0-0) 16pts.

The Rebels are coming off a huge 7-1 victory over the Saskatoon Blades on Wednesday night. Wyatt Johnson scored the first Red Deer hat-trick since Brooks Maxwell got 4 vs Saskatoon on March 3rd, 2015. This was the 3rd win in a row for the Rebels.

Red Deer is now 5-0-0-0 on home ice this season. Twice since the Rebels inception they have won 29 games at home first in 2000-01 season and then again in the 2002-03 season. The team went on to win the Memorial Cup in 2000-01, and host this season's penultimate tournament.

Medicine Hat comes into tonight's game winners of their last 2 games, both coming in the cozy confines of their new arena, CanAlta Centre. The Tigers are 1-2-1-0 on the road this season. Tonight's game will be the 1st of 6 games between the two hockey clubs. The next game will be contested in Medicine Hat on November 1st.

Evan Polei - Getty Images
Evan Polei enters the night with 4 goals and an assist on the season. He also has two fights, one with Rodney Southam of the Kelowna Rockets and the other with Taylor Crunk of the Vancouver Giants. The Rebels lean on Polei to carry the load when it comes to muscle and willingness to mix it up with the opposition. He has grown in his 3rd season with the team, posting 27 goals to go with 17 assists over his 125 games as a Rebel. He attended Detroit Red Wings Training Camp earlier this year. Polei has also become a fan favorite, especially in this household.

The Rebels added 18 year old Winnipeg, MB native, Braden Purtill from the Tri-City Americans. The team gave up a 3rd round pick in the 2017 Bantam Draft. Purtill has participated in 111 games with the Americans and has scored 11 goals to go with 10 assists. Braden can play both Wing and Defense and looks to be an integral part of the Memorial Cup season.

The team will be without the services of Haydn Fleury for 2 games following his hit to the head of Saskatoon Blade, Nick Zajac. Conner Gay was also suspended for 2 games for his cross check to the face of Fleury after the hit.

Cole Sanford - YahooSports
Medicine Hat will be without the services of Trevor Cox, Zach Fischer and Cole Sanford. All suffering from various ailments. Cox and Sanford make up 204 points from last season's team that beat the Rebels in 5 in the first round of the playoffs.

Austin Lotz was picked up by the Tigers to shore up their inconsistent goaltending. He is 20 years old and in his 4th season. He is 2-0-0-0 since the move and sports a 1.50 GAA and .948 sv%. Also the Tigers no longer have an import on their roster as they released Tomasz Laday on waivers this week and Alexei Polotonov decided to return home, this also leaves the Tigers with just 6 defensemen on the roster. Thanks to Gregg Drinnan and Taking Note.

Tonight's game at the Centrium is expected to be a full house, there is a benefit for the Bott family that lost three daughters in a farming incident recently. $1 from every ticket sold will be donated to them as well as any donations from the game's patrons this evening. Please come out and support a local family that has had to deal with a very devastating tragedy. Doors open at 6PM, puck drops at 7. Come early parking will be at a premium!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Return to the Centrium: Game Day #12

After a quick 4 games in 5 nights road trip through the BC Division, the Rebels return home.

Saskatoon Blades (4-2-3-0) 11 pts. AT Red Deer Rebels (7-4-0-0) 14 pts.

Red Deer enters tonight's contest riding a modest 2 game win streak following a wild 6-4 victory in Vancouver on Saturday night. They finished the road trip at 2 wins and 2 losses.

Saskatoon is coming off an overtime win in Edmonton last night. Wyatt Sloboshan had the winner in the 3-on-3 while Nik Amundrud saved 37 of 39. They are 2-0-1-0 on the road this year.

This is the first of 4 contests between the teams, they meet again in 17 days in Saskatoon, the 2nd game of a 5 game East Divison road trip during Agri-Trade at the Centrium.

Last year the Rebels went 3-1-0-0 against the Blades and have the slight edge in the last 10 games at 6-4-0-0. This game will see the return of Connor Gay to the Centrium he was traded to the Blades for a 3rd round 2015 Bantam Draft pick. So far this season Connor has 3 goals and 9 assists in 9 blades games.

Connor Gay -
Ivan Nikolishin and Michael Spacek continue to lead the team in points with 17 a piece. This is good for a tie for 6th place in the WHL. Haydn Fleury has 8 points since his return, good for 11th in WHL defencemen scoring. In the 15th spot is Colton Bobyk with 7 points.

Red Deer's Power play is currently 11th at 22.4%, while Saskatoon's is 15th at 20.0% On the Penalty Kill Red Deer sits 19th at 71.1% and Saskatoon is 7th at 81.4%

Cameron Hebig -
Saskatoon's Cameron Hebig is an offensive threat. He has scored 7 goals to go with 7 assists in 9 games this season. He usually lines up with Connor Gay and Ryan Graham. Defenceman Brycen Martin has chipped in on the back end with a goal and 8 assists in 9 games.

Brock Hamm and Nik Amundrud have mostly split the 9 games of action and have a team save percentage of .887% and a goals per game of 3.78. Amundrud is the "better" of the two sporting a 3.08 GAA and a .906 save percentage in 4 games.

Tonight's game is the first of 4 in a row at home for the Rebels. As always the game will be broadcast on 106.7 fm the Drive, Cam Moon will have the play by play. He will be joined by Mike Moller and Troy Gillard at 6:30 for the pregame show. Puck drop is at 7PM.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Bottom 5s

While I wait for the games tonight to end, I figured I would do a bottom 5s for the same categories as the last blog post. I have found it to be a lot of fun to put these together. I would also like to thank Gregg Drinnan of for putting these numbers in to words and a format that gives everyone an opportunity to think about a few things. So without further ado, here is the bottom 5s list.

Bottom 5 team shooting percentages
1. Kootenay Ice 7.095% - Zak Zborosky 6 goals 12th  (tied) overall
2. Edmonton Oil Kings 7.22% - Lane Bauer 6 goals 12th (tied) overall
3. Prince George Cougars 7.658% - Jesse Gabrielle 4 goals 32nd (tied) overall
4. Portland Winterhawks 7.925% - 3 players with 3 goals each
5. Kamloops Blazers 9.091% - 3 players with 4 goals each (includes newcomer Gage Quinney)

Bottom 5 team save percentages
1. Medicine Hat Tigers .863% - Nick Schneider 6GP .852 sv% 36th overall
2. Spokane Chiefs .866% - Tyson Verhelst  7GP .892% 23rd overall
3. Vancouver Giants .869% - Payton Lee 6GP .886% 26th overall
4. Kamloops Blazers .870% - Conner Ingram 8GP .874% 31st overall
5. Tri-City Americans .870% - Evan Sarthou 8GP .871% 32nd overall

Bottom 5 shots per game
1. Kootenay Ice 26.909 s/g - season high 33 (twice)
2. Spokane Chiefs 27.778 s/g - season high 38
3. Kamloops Blazers 28.111 s/g - season high 44
4. Tri-City Americans 28.556 s/g - season high 36
5. Swift Current Broncos 29.000 s/g - season high 43

Botton 5 shots against per game
1. Swift Current Broncos 40.500 sa/g - season high 55
2. Kootenay Ice 36.636 sa/g - season high 49
3. Kelowna Rockets 36.545 sa/g - season high 44
4. Regina Pats 35.100 sa/g - season high 43 (twice)
5. Vancouver Giants 34.400 sa/g - season high 44

Bottom 5 goals for per game
1. Kootenay Ice - 1.91 G/G
2. Edmonton Oil Kings - 2.40 G/G
3. Prince George Cougars - 2.43 G/G
4. Kamloops Blazers - 2.56 G/G
5. Portland Winterhawks - 2.63 G/G

Bottom 5 goals against per game
1. Vancouver Giants - 4.50 GA/G
2. Kootenay Ice - 4.36 GA/G
3. Spokane Chiefs - 4.33 GA/G
4. Medicine Hat Tigers - 4.11 GA/G
5. Kamloops Blazers - 4.00 GA/G
5. Saskatoon Blades - 4.00 GA/G

Take what you will from these stats, it is early but clearly seeing Kamloops and Kootenay represented here frequently shows in the standings. Take care and have a great night!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Top 5s

I love lists. That's it plain and simple. Lists are my thing, and stats tell a huge story. I'm going to create a Top 5 list once a month to see where teams sit. This will help explain the season so far and why your team is doing great or doing poorly. So without further ado, let's get the show on the road.

Top 5 team shooting percentage
1. Lethbridge Hurricanes 13.732% - Tyler Wong 12 Goals #1 overall
2. Moose Jaw Warriors 13.589% - Brayden Point 9 Goals #3 overall
3. Prince Albert Raiders 12.798% - Reid Gardiner 9 Goals #3 overall
4. Saskatoon Blades 12.698% - Cameron Hebig 6 Goals #11 overall
5. Kelowna Rockets 12.535% - Tyson Baillie 9 Goals #3 overall

Top 5 team save percentage
1. Moose Jaw Warriors .926% - Zach Sawchenko .924 sv% 8th overall
2. Brandon Wheat Kings .923% - Jordan Papirny .923 sv% 10th overall
3. Victoria Royals .923% - Coleman Vollrath . 930 sv% 5th overall
4. Swift Current Broncos .921% - Landon Bow .930 sv% 5th overall
5. Lethbridge Hurricanes .914% - Jayden Sittler .947 sv% 3rd overall

Top 5 shots for per game
1. Brandon Wheat Kings 44.56 s/g - season high 55 shots
2. Medicine Hat Tigers 35.56 s/g - season high 47 shots
3. Lethbridge Hurricanes 35.5 s/g - season high 43 shots
4. Red Deer Rebels 33.5 s/g - season high 48 shots
5. Edmonton Oil Kings 33.3 s/g - season high 53 shots

Top 5 shots against per game
1. Brandon Wheat Kings 23.33 sa/g - season low 16 shots against
2. Seattle Thunderbirds 25 sa/g - season low 20 shots against
3. Calgary Hitmen 27.22 sa/g - season low 19 shots against
4. Victoria Royals 27.3 sa/g - season low 22 shots against
5. Red Deer Rebels 27.73 sa/g - season low 21 shots against

Top 5 goals for per game
1. Brandon Wheat Kings - 5.11 G/G
2. Lethbridge Hurricanes - 4.88 G/G
3. Moose Jaw Warriors - 4.33 G/G
4. Kelowna Rockets - 4.09 G/G
5. Saskatoon Blades - 4.00 G/G

Top 5 goals against per game
1. Brandon Wheat Kings - 1.78 GA/G
2. Victoria Royals - 2.10 GA/G
3. Moose Jaw Warriors - 2.56 GA/G
4. Prince George Cougars - 2.71 GA/G
5. Lethbridge Hurricanes - 2.75 GA/G

These are just the best of the best. The rest can be found on the spreadsheet located to the right on the blog under WHL Statistics.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Big City Lights: Game Day #11

It's the Rebels in the final game of their 4 games in 5 nights road trip through the BC division.

Red Deer Rebels (6-4-0-0) 12 points AT Vancouver Giants (4-3-1-1) 10 points

The Rebels are heading into Vancouver for tonight's contest having gone 1-2-0-0 so far on the 4 game trip. They came from behind last night to defeat the Victoria Royals 3-1. Red Deer is now 2-4-0-0 in their last 6 games. The team improved to 2-4-0-0 on the road following the victory. The win also tied Red Deer for 2nd in the Eastern Conference, 3 points behind the Prince Albert Raiders.

Michael Spacek enters the game riding a 10 game point streak, tied for longest in the league so far this year. This streak gives him 17 points on the season, tied for 2nd in the league with teammate Ivan Nikolishin. Nikolishin has only been held off the score sheet in one game this year.

Lane Pederson -
Lane Pederson came over in a trade with the Seattle Thunderbirds in the off season. He has joined the 4th line here in Red Deer, mainly playing with Jeff de Wit and either Austin Pratt or Reese Johnson. He has played in all 10 games this year adding a goal and an assist. Lane is developing his role on the fourth line and is very efficient at pinning the opposition in their own end of the ice and cycles the puck well within the offensive zone.

Haydn Fleury has been back with the team for the last 6 games and has contributed 2 goals and 4 assists. He is the Power Play units quarterback, making quick passes to the forwards while patrolling the blue line for the Rebels. He is a steady puck mover, showing a lot of confidence in his own end. Haydn has a tendency to rush the puck up the ice but does a good job in getting back into position in the event the opponents gain possession.

Vancouver was our opponents for the 2016 Master Card Memorial Cup and they have struggled to do well this season. Their record of 4-3-1-1 is good for 3rd in the Western Conference but they have played 3 more games than many teams in the West. They have allowed 7 more goals than they have scored over the 9 games they have played.

Carter Popoff photo - the Province
The Giants will be without the services of Defenseman Ryley McKinstry, F Thomas Foster, F Jesse Roach and one of their star players F Tyler Benson. Benson has not yet played this season while recovering from his injury. He is now listed as week-to-week.

There are a number of players to watch for on the Giants, Radovan Bondra is a rookie drafted by the giants in the first round (8th overall) in the 2015 CHL Import Draft. He has 4 goals and 4 assists in 9 games already this season. Carter Popoff is the leading scorer for Vancouver, he has 4 goals and 7 assists in 9 games.

This game will wrap up the road trip for the Rebels, they head home for a game against the Saskatoon Blades on Wednesday. Tonight's game is broadcast locally on 106.7 FM the Drive. You can also view the game on WHL Live, follow the links on Puck drop is at 8PM local time.

Friday, 16 October 2015

On an Island: Game Day #10

The Rebels travel to Victoria for game 3 on the 4 game BC road trip. They have lost both games so far to Kamloops and Kelowna.

Red Deer Rebels AT Victoria Royals

The Rebels head in to tonight's contest on a 2 game losing streak and have only won 1 of their last 5 games. Red Deer has also only 1 win in 5 road games this season, that win coming in the first road game of the season back on September 27th. The team is now 6th in the Eastern conference on a 5-4-0-0 record on the season.

The Royals are first in the Western Conference with a 7-1-0-0 record. 6 of their 8 games have come at home and they are 5-1-0-0 at the Save On Foods Memorial Centre. Victoria has won their last 3 and are coming off 3-1 road win at Kamloops on Saturday October 10th.

Last year the Rebels went 0-1-1-1 against the Royals and have gone 4-2-1-2 against them since the move from Chilliwack in 2011.

Wyatt Johnson - Getty Images
Just before the last game the Rebels announced on twitter (@Rebelshockey) that they had decided to change the captaincy. Conner Bleackley was given an 'A' instead of the C he has had since Nov 8, 2013. Coach Sutter was on 106.7 the drive during the first intermission and discussed some of the reasons, which I will not go into detail about here, but basically saying that the pressure needed to be relieved from Bleackley and that he needed to get back to "his game."

So out with the old and in with the new so to speak. It was then announced that Wyatt Johnson has been named captain. Wyatt has shown leadership in the games that Conner was injured for last season and before he was returned to the Rebels after Colorado Avalanche camp. It is also believed that Wyatt is well respected in the dressing room.

Coleman Vollrath - source unknown
Victoria is a team that is scoring by committee, they don't have a scorer in the top 20 but have 4 players scoring at better than a point per game. Joe Hicketts is a defenseman to watch out for. He has played for the Canadian National Junior Team and was second in the WHL in points by a defenseman last season (12g-52a) This season he is 6th in D scoring (0g-9a).

Coleman Vollrath is likely to be the starting goalie for the Royals tonight. He comes in with a 7-1-0-0 record, playing every minute thus far for Victoria. He has a 1.63 GAA good for 6th in the league, his 5th ranked save percentage sits currently at .938.

For those of you who like to compare numbers in the statistical department, please check out Figler Files WHL Spreadsheet

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Putting Out Fires: Game Day #8

The boys embark on a 4 games in 5 nights road trip through the BC division starting with tonight's match up.

Red Deer Rebels (5-2-0-0) 10 pts. AT Kamloops Blazers (0-6-0-0) 0 pts.

Red Deer is coming off of a fantastic game against the Calgary Hitmen in which they scored the only shoot out goal to defeat the Hitmen 5-4. This came on the heals of a 4-1 defeat the night before to the same Hitmen. Kamloops are still searching for their first win of the season. They are coming off a 3-1 loss to the Victoria Royals at home on Saturday.

The Rebels are 1-2-0-0 away from home this season scoring just 6 goals while allowing 11. Kamloops has yet to win on home ice in 3 tries, going 0-3-0-0 while scoring 7 goals. 14 have made it to the back of their net. Red Deer has won the last 3 games against Kamloops and are 7-3-0-0 in the last 10 against the Blazers.

Draft Eligible last season, Grayson Pawlenchuk has come on strong since being skipped over. He did not attend an NHL training camp and has worked hard to prove his role on this year's Memorial Cup hosting team. He has put up 4 goals in his 7 games. This includes a power play goal. Brent Sutter has had more trust in this young man this year and it shows. He has been on a line with speedsters, Ivan Nikolishin and Michael Spacek.

Brandon Hagel was brought in from the Whitecourt Wolverines of the AJHL. Since joining the team he has spent time on a line with Conner Bleackley and Wyatt Johnson. He has a goal and 3 assists in his 7 games. Expect big things from him as he is draft eligible and ranked as a 'C' prospect by NHL Central Scouting.

In Kamloops they have yet to resolve their overage (20 year olds) situation. One of Needham, Harrison, McNulty or Rehill will sit. Needham is the captain and is unlikely to be the odd man out as the deadline approaches on Oct 15th.

Connor Ingram -
Jake Kryski is ranked by NHL Central Scouting a "C" prospect for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft and he leads the Blazers in points. 2 goals and 4 points in 6 games this year. He is joined in scoring by Jesse Zacharichuk who has a goal and 5 assists, he sat out the last game with the flu and has only been in 5 contests this season.

I would expect Connor Ingram to get the start tonight, he has a 0-4-0-0 record in 5 starts this season. His GAA is 4.61 and he sports a .864 save percentage.

Tonight's game will be a late start on 106.7 the Drive. Cam Moon will have the call starting with a quick pre-game show at 7:50PM. Puck drop goes at 8PM.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Player Profiles: Jeff de Wit

For Jeff de Wit, he gets to enjoy playing in the city he grew up in. He has gone to school in Red Deer as well as played hockey throughout his career for the very well known Red Deer Minor Hockey Association.

Jeff joined the Rebels through the 2013 Bantam Draft (1st round, 14th overall). He played his Bantam years with the Red Deer Rebels Black, accumulating 53 points (24G, 29A) in 59 games over his two seasons.

Since joining the Rebels, Jeff has grown into a player that will take his bumps in the corners and grind it out as a 3rd or 4th liner on a deep Red Deer team that is poised to walk in the front door as MasterCard Memorial Cup hosts.

Last season as a 16 year old rookie, de Wit put up 3 goals and 10 assists in 65 contests, despite playing many games on the 4th line and used sporadically at that. It was noted last year that Jeff had an interesting stride that many fans remarked came from a previous injury. He put most of his energy from his stride into his hips. This made for an awkward movement on the ice and limited his range.

This year Jeff seems to have corrected the "issue" with is stride and looks as quick as ever. He has grown to be 6'3" 185 lbs and doesn't look out of place in that body. He could stand to gain a few pounds to continue his role as a 4th line energy/checking line guy. With his continued development de Wit has already added a goal and an assist while working with the 4th line guys, Austin Pratt/Reese Johnson and Lane Pederson.

NHL Central Scouting has de Wit listed as a B prospect for the up coming NHL Entry draft, meaning he is likely to be drafted in the 2nd or 3rd round. He is a perfect fit for a team looking for someone who is willing to dig in the hard areas as well as having some grit and skill to put the puck in the net when chances arise from his line's hard work.

Thank you to for the data relating to Jeff's Midget and Bantam seasons as well as for the information regarding his Red Deer Rebel career.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

THE REMATCH: Game Day #7

It's the home end of the home and home with the Calgary Hitmen, Red Deer will look to avenge last night's 4-1 loss.

Calgary Hitmen (5-1-0-0) AT Red Deer Rebels (4-2-0-0)

The Rebels gave the Hitmen too many chances last night on the power play, where the Hitmen went 3 for 6. That now gives the Hitmen a 25.6% rate on the season, good for 7th in the WHL. Red Deer is one spot behind at 25.0%.

The Penalty Kill, which was so effective last year (83.7%, 2nd), has struggled mightily this year at 70.8% which is only 17th in the WHL. Calgary is second at 89.2%

Rebels to Watch

Photo : Edmonton Sun
I don't personally think Rylan Toth had his best game on the season, I suspect he will bounce back in a big way tonight. He was not very effective at picking up shots from the point, especially with traffic in front. His goals against average took a hit last night, now sitting at 2.43 and a save percentage of .909.

Conner Bleackley, who was paired with Grayson Pawlenchuck and Brandon Hagel for most of the evening, will be looking to create some more chemistry with the big boys up front. I think the fans and the team expects a little bit more from the captain who has a goal and an assist in his 4 games since returning from NHL camp. Look to see his line try to control the pace tonight.

Hitmen to Watch

Jake Bean was a handful for the Rebels last night as expected. He had 2 goals and 2 assists, and he is NHL draft eligible this season. The scouts have him ranked as a B prospect. He will continue to quarterback the power play with Travis Sanheim, who had 1 goal and 3 assists last night against a struggling Rebels Power Play.

Photo: Calgary Sun

Lastly, Radel Fazleev is forward to watch for. His goal and 2 assists last night helped the Hitmen seal the deal against the Rebels. Look for him to continue putting pucks to the net.

Hope to see you at the rink tonight being #LoudNProud! The doors at the Enmax Centrium at 6PM, Puck drop goes right after the anthems, about 7PM. As always 106.7fm the Drive will have your play-by-play beginning at 6:30 with Cam Moon, Troy Gillard and Cam Moon.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Rebels Game Day Preview Game #6

Good day Rebels fans, its that time again. Red Deer looks to renew its rivalry with the Calgary Hitmen and return to its winning ways after a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Tuesday night. Calgary's last game was on Sunday, a 3-0 win over the Regina Pats.

The Rebel's loss in Lethbridge came as a surprise to the fans and I'm sure that Brent Sutter was not happy with his charges effort on the ice. Red Deer lacked drive and determination, resulting in taking poor penalties. Trevor Martin, playing his first game of the season, was left to try to stop 40 shots on goal, the result of taking 8 minor penalties. Red Deer allowed 3 goals on 6 power plays, their worst outing of the new season.

Tonight, I would look to see Rylan Toth back between the pipes. He has won all 4 games he started, with a 2.03 GAA and a .925 save percentage.

The Rebels went with a new look Defense after the return of Haydn Fleury. He was paired with Kayle Doetzel while Colton Bobyk was paired with Nelson Nogier. The last pairing was Shmoorkoff and Strand. I would think that after 7 of the 8 minor penalties came against the Defense that Sutter will mix the pairings up and hope some chemistry is made.

Dave Brunner / Red Deer Rebels
I personally like our forward units. Once everyone has a little more practice and a few more games together, all 4 lines should gel nicely. Pawlenchuk, and Johnson centered by Bleackley has the potential to be a very good line when all three players are clicking. Pawlenchuk has elite level speed and Bleackley can be dangerous in all situations. Johnson is a playmaker, I just feel he needs to shake a little rust after being on 3rd line duty. A line that would be number 1 on many teams this season is the Nikolishin, Spacek, Musil trio. They all have speed to burn and Spacek is promising to be a great finisher. Nikolishin has great hands and has shown multiple times that he can stick handle himself out of most situations. This was a shrewd pick up by Mr. Sutter this past off-season.

While the Hitmen don't have a scorer in the top 40, they are a potent team. From top to bottom they will give the Rebels fits as they are built to apply pressure and sustain it. The back end boasts Travis Sanheim and Jake Bean, both are in the top 10 in defensemen scoring.

Jake Bean - EliteProspects
Goaltending in Calgary may be of some concern going forward as Brendan Burke is out with a reported lower body injury. He is out 1-2 weeks. This leaves Kyle Dumba (yes Matt's younger brother) and Lasse Petersen to man the net. Both have played well enough since Burke was injured.

For the Rebels tonight's game will be all about consistently following the game plan. Calgary is tough at home, Red Deer went 2-1-1-0 in Calgary last year and are 5-4-1-0 in the last 10 overall against the Hitmen. Look for tonight's game to be a close encounter.

Don't forget to check out my Stats Page for the WHL. It is updated as soon as possible following the games of the night. 

As always you can hear the game on 106.7 the Drive. The legendary Cam Moon will have the call starting at 6:50 PM. The game will also be on Shaw TV.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

The Opposition Perspective

Please see the followin very well written piece, sent to me from a good friend over at @canesdomain on twitter. Please visit his website at

His perspective of tonight's match up between your Red Deer Rebels and the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

"I’m not really sure what the perception of the Hurricanes is outside of Lethbridge. I’m a born and raised Lethbridge native and the saga that exists in this market is second nature to me. Bickering, rumor spreading, fear mongering, trepidation… those are just things synonymous with all jr. hockey teams are they not?

Let me be clear. I don’t believe any of those things are currently an issue. I actually believe things to very good within the team and the organization right now. It would however, be naive to say those characteristics didn’t dominate this market as recently as last year. We are a jaded bunch us Lethbridge hockey fans. Whether justified in it or not, that's just how things are down here. Or at least, that’s how things were.

It would be premature to suggest that everything is okay four games into the Hurricanes 2015-2016 season, but things really do seem to be trending upwards. While it has yet to translate to massive crowds or a feverish movement in the city, there does seem to be a cautious optimism surrounding the club. There is what I believe to be a large number of hockey followers taking a ‘wait and see’ approach with the Hurricanes. It may take months, but if the Canes can carry on around .500, some of those followers floating in the distance may once again occupy a seat at the Enmax Centre.

For Rebel’s faithful unfamiliar with the Canes’, here are a few very early characteristics of the ‘15-’16 club.

The Hurricanes have solid goaltending. Both Jayden Sittler and Stuart Skinner have proven to be above average netminders. Skinner has been pulled in two of his three starts, but hasn’t been terrible in either case and looked very good in the home opener against the Tigers.

Up front, the Hurricanes boast a deep lineup. The first line of Estephan (Sabres 15’), Wong, and Bellerive has been extremely productive to date. Wong and Estephan have been standouts more than the young Bellerive, but his time is coming. The second line consists of two overage forwards acquired in the offseason. Justin Gutierrez centers Corey Millette and import sensation Egor Babenko. Babenko brings the flash while the two overagers have shown no fear crashing the net.

The bottom six consists of a few stand out rookies and a number of underrated sophomores. Watch for Carter Folk, Ryan Vandervlis, and Brayden Burke to make an impact. While the Canes don’t have much in the way of household name scorers, they are a deep team that can roll four lines.

The question marks come on the back-end where Andrew Nielsen (Toronto ‘15) and overager Arvin Atwal have been called on to do the heavy lifting. Atwal has shown more offensive flare than he was billed but makes the occasional risky play. Don’t be surprised to see Atwal mix it up after the whistles either. He plays with an edge - sometimes to his benefit - sometimes not.

Outside of the top two, the remaining defensive roster is a pretty meat and potatoes group. There are serviceable players here, but a number of egregious mistakes have been made on the backend four games in. If the Rebels can pressure Hurricane defenders, there will be turnovers and odd man rush opportunities to be had.

The Hurricanes have proven to have a very good powerplay thus far. The Rebels would be wise to avoid taking too many penalties. On the other hand, the Hurricanes have also proven to take some terrible penalties of their own. I’m not sure of actual numbers, but I would wager the Hurricanes are in the upper third of the league in taking offensive zone penalties.

Ultimately, Rebel’s fans should expect a close, entertaining affair, with lots of chances both ways."

Game Day Preview Game #5

Red Deer Rebels (4-0-0-0) AT Lethbridge Hurricanes (2-2-0-0) 4 PTS

It's a good day for some hockey! Rebels fans, the team has finally settled in, the routine of weekend games comes to an end and it's time for some Tuesday night hockey from the ENMAX Centre in Lethbridge, AB.

Red Deer will look to keep it's winning streak going. It is currently the second longest winning streak to open a season. The record is held by the 2000-01 Memorial Cup winning team. It stands at 7 wins in a row. Last season these teams met 6 times with Red Deer holding the edge going 4-1-0-1 vs. 2-3-0-1 Lethbridge looks to be an improved team under rookie head coach Brent Kisio.

Red Deer will be without the services of Josh Mahura for the foreseeable future. He is expected to have knee surgery that will take him out of the lineup for 5-6 months. Yes MONTHS. This is an unfortunate situation for the Rebels and for Josh who is in his draft eligible season. On the upside, Haydn Fleury has been returned to the Rebels from Carolina Hurricanes training camp and is expected to play in his first WHL game of the season.

Rebels to Watch

Photo : @cbobyk18
Trevor Martin came over in a trade last season with the Saskatoon Blades. I would expect he will make his first start of the season at Lethbridge tonight. He played in 1 game last year for the Rebels, posting a win. In the preseason he had a 1-1 record with a 4.00 GAA and a .879 save percentage.

Colton Bobyk was also added in a trade last season coming over from Spokane with picks for Nick Charif and picks. He was brought in to help bolster a somewhat lackluster defense last season. He is an anchor on the team, and often plays on the Power Play. Colton is 4th in defensemen scoring with 2G and 3A.

 Hurricanes to Watch

Jordy Bellerive, the 2nd overall pick in the 2014 WHL Bantam draft. He has contributed with 1G and 3A in his first 4 WHL games. He has been given time to show off his skills on the first line.

Newly adorned with the Captain's C, Tyler Wong has shown the coaches and the fans what that means to this hockey club. He has centered the 1st line and brought the team to a respectable 2-2 record through the first 4 games. He has 5 goals and 2 assists in those games.

It is also worth mentioning that Brayden Burke is playing exceptionally well. The former Rebel has 2 goals and 5 assists in 4 games this year.

Well that's it for me today. Here's to another great road game for the Red Deer Rebels. The game will be live with Cam Moon at 6:50PM on 106.7 the Drive.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Game Day Preview Game #4

Kelowna Rockets AT Red Deer Rebels

Good morning Rebels fans! It's another Rebels game day as the team will host the defending WHL Champion Kelowna Rockets.

Kelowna comes to Red Deer following a come from behind 5-3 victory over the Oil Kings. Down 3-1 with just over 3 minutes to go in the 2nd, the Rockets stormed back with 4 unanswered goals. They improved to 3-1-0-0 on the season and 2-1-0-0 on the road.

Red Deer is fresh off a convincing 5-1 win over the Swift Current Broncos. The team looked dominant throughout the contest after establishing an early 2-0 lead. Red Deer is now undefeated in their first 3 games and will look to make it number four tonight.

Red Deer has not beaten Kelowna since November 9, 2011. They have since gone 0-6-0-2 in the 8 games since and the last home win against the Rockets came on February 27, 2009!

The Rebels will be without the services of Josh Mahura for the long term. It was revealed by Brent Sutter after the game that he had suffered a lower body injury and did not determine the length of time he would be unavailable. This is a difficult blow for a team awaiting the return of Haydn Fleury from Carolina Hurricanes camp. *update* Haydn has been sent back to the Rebels this morning from Carolina. It is unlikely he will make it back to Red Deer for tonight's action.

Rebels to Watch

Photo Devon Harknett

Ivan Nikolishin was brought to Red Deer in a trade with the Everett Silvertips on May 7th at the Bantam Draft. It was anticipated he would bring a different level of skill to the Rebels. He played last night on a line with Conner Bleackley and Presten Kopeck. He has 3 goals and 3 assists in his 3 games in a Rebels uniform, which includes at least a point in each of those games.

In net should be our number one goaltender, Rylan Toth. He has won all 3 games for the Rebels this season. His goals against average is a sparkling 1.36 as well as his .942 save percentage. Rylan has been given the torch to run with for the team in this Memorial Cup season.

Rockets to Watch

Returning a large portion of their Memorial Cup team, the Rockets could basically just be listed as a team to watch for the entire WHL season. It was hard to select just a couple of players to watch for the game this evening.

Tomas Soustal, another player from the Czech Republic, comes into tonight's game on a 4 game point scoring streak. He is tied for the team lead with 7 points and has the league leading plus/minus with a +6.

Nick Merkley has only seen action in one of the Rockets games. He was drafted by the Arizona Coyotes and was 6th in WHL scoring last season with 90 points. Watch for him to continue his scoring prowess while building chemistry again with his linemates.

It is unclear if Jackson Whistle will be available for tonight's game, he has suffered an injury and was not in net for the team last night in Edmonton. Defensemen Daniel Gatenby and Jonathan Smart were also out of the lineup last night and are not expected to play.
Tonight's game is live at the Enmax Centrium, puck drop goes at 7PM. Of course all the action can be heard on 106.7 the Drive, with the pre-game show beginning at 6:30. Josh Hall will be live in place of Troy Gillard with the legend himself Cam Moon. Let's get down to the Centrium to cheer on the boys as they look to extend their win streak to 4. 

Friday, 2 October 2015

Game Day Preview Game #3

Swift Current Broncos AT Red Deer Rebels

Tonight's match up is the first of three on the season between the two clubs. Red Deer will look to continue its modest 2 game win streak to start the season while Swift Current will look to bounce back following a 4-1 loss to Brandon last Saturday.

Last season the Rebels went 2-1-0-1 against the Broncos. They are currently 1-0-0-0 on the season at home and the Broncos are 1-0-0-0 on the road as they opened the season with a shootout win in Brandon. Swift Current and Brandon were the first teams to reach the shootout after the WHL adopted the new 3 on 3 overtime format.

Rebels To Watch

WHL rookie Michael Spacek lit it up last weekend with 3 goals and 2 assists in the two game set versus the Edmonton Oil Kings. This included the game winner in regulation on Saturday and the OT winner on Sunday. 3 of his 5 points were on the power play.

Colorado Avalanche draft pick, Conner Bleackley, was returned to the team this week. He would like to continue his captaincy where he left off . Conner had 49 points (27g-22a) in 51 games last season and a goal and an assist in the playoffs last year.

Broncos To Watch

Former Red Deer Rebel, Scott Feser, will be making his return to the Centrium. Scott has played in 2 games with the Broncos since the trade on June 25th.

Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins draft pick from the 2015 draft, is pegged to return to the line up after his first NHL training camp. Jake had 81 points (42G-39A) in 72 games with the Broncos last season. He returns as a leading scorer and will boost the offense on a team lacking scoring.

Red Deer
Goals      3- Spacek
Assists    2- Spacek, Nikolishin, Musil
Points     5- Spacek
+/-           +2 - Shmoorkoff

Swift Current
Goals     1- Chaulk, Adams
Assists   1- Three players
Points    2- Chaulk
+/-         even - six players

All of tonight's action will begin with puck drop at 7PM at the Enmax Centrium. As always Cam Moon and Troy Gillard with have the call starting at 6:30 with the Pre-game show, live on 106.7fm the Drive. The next game for the Red Deer Rebels is Saturday October 3rd, against the WHL Champions from last season the Kelowna Rockets.

Photo credit CHL Images