Rebels hopeful latest U.S. Priority Draft picks follow Bourne, Roberts to Red Deer
The Red Deer Rebels added two skilled forwards to their list of prospects on Wednesday, with the hope that the players will follow fellow Americans Quentin Bourne and Jeramiah Roberts to the Western Hockey League.
The Rebels selected Cooper Soller 18th overall in this year’s U.S. Priority Draft and added Kue-Gene (Ethan) Park in the second round, 40th overall.
Bourne, the team’s first round pick in the 2021 US draft, just finished his first season with the Rebels, while Roberts, Red Deer’s first-rounder last year, has signed with the team and is expected to be with the club next season.
Park, as it turns out, has strong ties to Red Deer. The 15-year-old was born here and has an aunt living in the city.
“That one’s a little different. Most U.S. kids haven’t been to Red Deer before, whereas the Park family has been here,” said Rebels Associate GM Shaun Sutter.
“They kind of know everything about Red Deer. That’s pretty unique.”
Park, five-foot-nine and 157 pounds, has committed to attending the Rebels training camp next fall and Sutter is somewhat confident that Soller will check in as well.
“He (Soller) is a high-end player who we believe has some interest in playing in our league,” said Sutter. “Obviously with any good player from the U.S. you have to build a relationship, get to know them. It’s no different from Roberts or Bourne.”
Soller, from Los Angeles, garnered 76 points — including 31 goals — in 55 games with the Shattuck St. Mary’s 14U AAA team during the 2022-23 season.
“He has high-end skill, he’s a high end offensive player who can score,” said Sutter of the 147-pound forward who stands a shade under five-foot-10. “He’s not a tall guy but he has a lot of drive . . . he’s a play driver. I think he could be a real high end player in our league.”
Park, from Meridian, Idaho, played with the Los Angeles Kings 14U AAA team this past season, scoring 19 goals and collecting 45 points in 43 games.
“He’s a good two-way player who works,” said Sutter. “He has some edge to him and can distribute, he has some offence in him. He’s also a good player.”
The two prospective Rebels are actually good friends, having played on the same line together in the 2021-22 season with the LA Kings 13U AAA squad.
“Their parents have connected and have talked to each other since we picked them,” said Sutter.
Park, as previously noted, plans to be at training camp in late August and early September.
“His level of interest is high, as strong as you can get for a US player,” said Sutter.
As for Soller, who turns 15 in August . . .
“With him being at Shattuck, that will have to be figured out. He might not be able to come if they have tryouts at that time.
“Its no different from (past US picks out of Shattock) Graycyn Sawchyn, Austin Pratt and Grant Mishmash. Sometimes their schooling conflicts with training camp.”