Brigley living the dream as a Red Deer Rebels rookie
Being selected by the Red Deer Rebels in the 2020 WHL bantam draft was a thrill in itself for Talon Brigley.
Pulling on the Rebels jersey and appearing in his first ever WHL regular season home game against the Calgary Hitmen last Saturday was something else again for the rookie forward.
“It was pretty cool, pretty awesome. I was able put on the jersey for the first time at home, in front of friends and family,” the Sylvan Lake product said Thursday.
“It’s been pretty special playing here. Obviously growing up as a young boy in central Alberta, you want to play for Red Deer.”
The Rebels picked Brigley in the second round of last year’s draft after the 155-pound winger recorded 13 goals and 26 points in 23 games with the Red Deer major bantam Rebels during the 2019-20 season.
Brigley, who stands a shade over five-foot-10, suited up with the Red Deer midget AAA Chiefs for five games in the fall of last year before the season was halted due to the pandemic.
He was able to get back on the ice in February after being invited to participate in practices, games and workout sessions at the Rink Academy in Kelowna.
“Byron Ritchie is one of the coaches there. He and my dad (Travis) go way back to when they both played in Lethbridge,” Brigley explained of the invitation. “They’re still really good friends to this day.
“He (Richie) brought me out there just to practise and play some intrasquad games. With not having a season, it was good that I was able to go out there, get on the ice with some guys and compete.”
Brigley then spent much of the summer working with Rebels assistant/skills coach Erik Lodge at the Penhold Multiplex. That experience provided the 16-year-old winger with a measure of confidence heading into training camp in September.
“I was pretty confident coming into camp. Working with Lodgey over the summer, he pretty much told me everything I need to do,” said Brigley. “He got me to where I wanted to be and I knew I had a chance to play here.
“We did a lot of skill stuff like getting quicker, getting up to speed for these (WHL) guys, getting stronger and knowing how to work against guys who are bigger, because I’m a smaller guy.”
Brigley’s father Travis was a WHL star with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the mid-90s who went on to play 55 NHL games with Calgary and Colorado and played pro a total of 13 years, including six years overseas. He wrapped up his playing career with the Bentley Generals.
“He’s been a pretty big influence on me, obviously I look up to him,” said the younger Brigley. “I want to make him proud as much as I can. He’s pretty hard on me sometimes but it’s obviously got me here.”
The Rebels are coming off a big 2-1 win over the CHL fourth-ranked Edmonton Oil Kings — their second victory over their northern neighbours in three meetings this season — and will host the Hurricanes and the Brandon Wheat Kings Friday and Saturday.
“We feel like we have a winning team here and I think we can go far in the playoffs,” said Brigley, who has yet to register a point in two games. “I know it’s still early but seeing what we can do against a team like Edmonton really brings up our confidence.
“I think we can really do some good things this year.”
Rebels vs. Lethbridge Hurricanes
Friday, 7 p.m., Peavey Mart Centrium
LW Justin Hall, with one goal and five assists, is the leading point producer for the Hurricanes, who enter the game with a 3-2-0-0 record. C Chase Wheatcroft has contributed two goals and five points and LW Alex Thacker also has recorded five points (1g,4a) . . . The 4-3-1-0 Rebels are paced offensively by LW Blake Stevenson (2-5-7) and D Christoffer Sedoff (1-6-7). LW Arshdeep Bains (4-2), C Ben King (3-3) and D Jace Weir (2-4) have each picked up six points . . . Bryan Thomson has tended the Lethbridge crease in all five games and sports a 1.80 goals-against average and .951 save percentage. For the Rebels, Connor Ungar has a 1.32 GAA and .960 save percentage in three games and Chase Coward, in five games, has numbers of 2.44 and .912.
Injuries: Lethbridge — RW Reid MacKay (upper body, week-to-week) Red Deer — C Josh Medernach (lower body, indefinite), C Jace Isley (lower body, day-to-day).
Special teams: Lethbridge — Power play 21.7 per cent, eighth overall; penalty kill 89.5 per cent, fourth. Red Deer — Power play 17.1 per cent, 12th overall; penalty kill 85.4 per cent, sixth.