Bourne brings impressive skating and puck handling skills to Rebels
On the day he was selected eighth overall in the Western Hockey League’s 2021 U.S. Priority Draft, Quentin Bourne insisted he was thrilled with the prospect of joining the Red Deer Rebels.
“I’m excited to be selected by such a prestigious organization as Red Deer,” he said on Dec. 8. “I’d like to attend training camp next year, for sure. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
On Saturday, he assured himself of a training camp invitation and almost certainly a berth on the 2022-23 team by signing a WHL Standard Player Agreement with the Rebels.
Bourne and his mother, Danai Schulte, were in Red Deer last week as the defenceman skated with the Rebels and on Saturday he put pen to paper in the team office.
Bourne could have signed virtually, but wanted to do it in person with his mother as well as GM Brent Sutter and assistant GM Shaun Sutter on hand. Plus, he wanted to see what the program is all about.
“I wanted to see the facility, see the team, meet the coaches . . . everything went good,” said the 16-year-old product of Torrance, California.
“It’s a great place, the place I want to be. The facility is amazing.”
The five-foot-eight, 150-pound blueliner recorded 25 points in 54 games this season with the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 15U team.
He previously played with the Los Angeles Jr. Kings 14U AAA squad before moving across the country to give himself a better chance of developing into a more rounded player.
“It’s a good program with good coaching and they have a very good school system set up for us,” he said.
Bourne, whose interest in hockey was sparked when he attended minor pro games with his grandfather in Bakersfield, Calif., is an offensive-minded rearguard who has superior skating and puck handling skills.
“Those are my strengths, especially my skating,” he said Saturday.
Bourne admitted he was impressed with the calibre of WHL when he attended the Rebels’ 8-3 win over the Calgary Hitmen last Wednesday at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
He was impressed with the pace of play, but not intimidated.
“It is fast, but I don’t think it’s anything I can’t handle,” he said.
Bourne, who along with his mother flew from Los Angeles to Denver and then to Kalispell, Mont., before driving to Red Deer, described himself as an “offensive defenceman, the kind of guy who can push the pace, rush the puck and join the rush.”
He spent the past season working on improving his strength and his decision making, and on Saturday guaranteed himself and the Rebels that he would showcase his skills in Red Deer next season and beyond.
“It’s a huge signing. He’s someone we keyed on during the U.S. draft,” said Brent Sutter. “I watched him play in the U.S. (age class) nationals last year in Texas and he was a standout.
Sutter then brought Bourne to the attention of Adam Shaner, the team’s Western USA based in Denver, who followed his development leading up to the December draft.
“You never know with these (American) kids, whether they’re going to come or not. But he had interest right from the start. He just made his decision and his parents fully support him on it.
“His mom did everything she could to get him here and it worked out. He loves it here and he wants to be a Rebel, and his parents are excited about it. He’s the first California kid we’ve had since we purchased the team in 1999.”
The team, in the past, has signed a few players from Colorado and Minnesota, the last one being Austin Pratt in 2015.
The Rebels GM, president and owner is convinced Bourne is the real deal and that his lack of size will not be a detriment to the player.
“He’s a good player, he skates extremely well,” said Sutter. “He’s really smart and he’s sturdy on his skates, he has good hands and good hockey sense.
“He’s not a massive player size wise, but with his hockey sense, skill sense and skating . . . you can never have enough of that on your team. His size isn’t going to impact him at all.”
The Rebels will host the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday and Saturday in the first two games of a best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final.