Bains and King chasing WHL scoring title as regular season winds down
With the Red Deer Rebels now in the homestretch of the 2021-22 WHL regular season, the watch is on for both team and individual accomplishments.
The Rebels have six games remaining before they venture into the playoffs and, barring a complete collapse, will almost certainly finish second in the Central Division, behind the Edmonton Oil Kings, and third in the Eastern Conference, back of the Oil Kings and Winnipeg Ice.
The Rebels have recorded 41 victories this season, the seventh time in the club’s 30-year history that they have reached the 40-win mark, and will enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Red Deer’s first two post-season games are slated for April 22 and 23 at the Peavey Mart Centrium and tickets are on sale as of today (March 29).
Red Deer’s special teams have been excellent. The Rebels have the league’s second-ranked power play at 27.4 per cent and are a very respectable sixth in the penalty kill category at 80.9 per cent.
Earlier in the season the Rebels played well on the road but struggled somewhat at home. But the team is 8-0-0-1 in the last nine games at the Centrium, an encouraging mark for a team that will open the playoffs at home.
On an individual level, Arshdeep Bains (pictured above) and Ben King sit first and second in the quest for the WHL scoring title with 97 and 95 points respectively, with their closest pursuer, Kyle Crnkovic of the Saskatoon Blades, at 88 points.
Still remotely in the hunt are Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers (87) and Regina Pats phenom Connor Bedard, who has recorded his 84 points in only 44 games.
King, who is on 15-game point streak, is closing in on the goal scoring title with a league-leading 47, three more than Bedard, and is the run-away leader in two categories — game winners and power play goals (21). His 14 game-winning goals is just two off the WHL record of 16, set by Brian Propp of the Brandon Wheat Kings in 1978-79.
The Vernon, B.C., native (pictured below) is on pace to score 50 goals and would be the first Rebel since Kyle Wanvig in the team’s Memorial Cup season of 2000-2001 to reach that level.
Bains, meanwhile, has a league-best 61 assists, two ahead of Owen Zellweger of the Everett Silvertips. Bains, currently on an eight-game point streak, has also scored the most game-opening goals in the league, with 10.
The last Rebel to win the league scoring title was Justin Mapletoft in the 2000-2001 season. Red Deer has never had players finish one-two in the scoring race.
The Rebels goaltenders have pulled their weight this season, with Connor Ungar fourth overall in the goals-against average department with a mark of 2.28 and fifth in save percentage at .912.
Chase Coward, the current WHL goaltender of the week — and two-time recipient of the award this season — after allowing just two goals in a pair of weekend games, including a 3-0 shutout of the Swift Current Broncos, is 10th in GAA with a 2.39 mark and 13th in save percentage at .909.
Notable: The Rebels take on the Oil Kings in a weekend home-and-home series, Saturday at the Centrium and Sunday afternoon in Edmonton . . . Red Deer’s other remaining regular season games are April 8 vs. Lethbridge, April 9 at Edmonton, April 13 at Calgary and April 16 vs. Edmonton . . . The Rebels will host ‘Alumni Night, presented by ATB’ on April 8. All former Rebels players, coaches and staff are invited to attend. On that night the Rebels will be wearing special jerseys to be auctioned off in support of the Rebels Foundation for Education and Wellness.