Rookie Burlock making a sizeable impression
Escalus Burlock couldn’t have written a better script.
Playing in his sixth WHL regular season game, Burlock scored his first ever goal for the Red Deer Rebels in his hometown in a 7-2 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings Sunday at Rogers Place.
“It was awesome, lots of people were there, the family was there,” he said Tuesday prior to a practice session at the Servus Arena. “Overall, it’s been awesome and I’m so thankful to these guys for giving me this opportunity.”
After a strong training camp in September, Burlock started the season with the Rebels and was reassigned to the midget AAA Edmonton Junior Oilers Blue after appearing in three games.
The 16-year-old forward scored twice and added an assist in four games with the Oilers Blue before being recalled to the Rebels last week and notching his first goal in his third game back, with linemate Carson Bernie drawing an assist. Burlock beat Oil Kings netminder Alex Worthington over his blocker with a quick release from close range.
“I was coming down and Bernie was forechecking really hard,” Burlock reminisced. “They forced the pass through, it hit off his stick and right to me. I didn’t even look, I just shot it.”
You never forget your first! pic.twitter.com/2hwizjgaFy
— Red Deer Rebels (@Rebelshockey) October 30, 2022
A seventh-round pick of the Rebels in the 2021 WHL Prospect Draft last December, the six-foot-two, 193-pound rookie insisted he didn’t come into training camp with high expectations.
“I was just trying to open a door for next year,” he said. “But the coaches really liked what I showed and I’m just happy with how everything has turned out. I couldn’t be more thankful.
“I had a good showing in camp because I didn’t put much pressure on myself. All I did was come in and try to show my best self. I think that’s what I did and that’s what led to this.”
Unlike most 16-year-olds, Burlock has the physical dimensions needed to maneuver through a WHL season as a rookie.
“I hope to continue to develop my game and learn to use my size to create space for myself and other players on the ice,” he said.
Rebels assistant coach Ryan Colville isn’t surprised that the Edmonton product has fit right in as a fourth-line skater.
“For a young guy he has a lot of size and you can see there’s skill in there and he’s learning to use it at this level,” said Colville. “He’s a confident kid and he has a chance to be a really good player at this level.
“He’s learning how to use his size and skill and he just keeps learning game by game.”
Burlock will be aboard the Rebels bus Thursday to Swift Current and a Friday night engagement with the Broncos, the first game of a six-game trip that will also include stops in Moose Jaw, Winnipeg (for two games), Brandon and Regina.
“I’m looking forward to it. I’ve travelled to (minor hockey) tournaments but I’ve never been on a trip that long,” he said.
Kelsey, Stoesser share WHL goalie award
Rebels stoppers Kyle Kelsey and Rhett Stoesser have been recognized as the WHL Goaltenders of the Month for September/October.
The rookie netminders have been instrumental in helping the team open the season with a modern-day WHL-best 13 consecutive wins, surrendering only 22 goals in the process.
Their performances have helped the Rebels rise to the No. 3 spot in the CHL Top 10 rankings.
“It’s for sure a team award, 100 per cent,” Kelsey said Tuesday. “The team’s been playing great, making it pretty easy for us.”
Regardless, both netminders have risen to the occasion when needed.
Kelsey has posted a 1.87 goal-against average and .936 save percentage with one shutout in eight games.
Stoesser, meanwhile, leads the league with a 1.40 GAA and also owns a .934 save percentage in five starts. The Carstairs product has also recorded two shutouts.
The 17-year-old faced only 25 shots in Sunday’s one-sided win over the host Edmonton Oil Kings, but came up big on a few occasions, making a sizzling pad save on Shea Van Olm and then robbing Rhett Melnyk with a dazzling glove stab in the third period.
“That’s what we’re here for, just doing our part for the team,” said Kelsey, who’s become good friends with his goaltending partner.
“I love Rhett, he’s one of my favourite guys on the team,” Kelsey insisted. “It’s a great tandem we have going. There’s a bit of competition between us but it’s all friendly.”
The native of Maple Ridge, B.C., said his self esteem has risen as the season has progressed.
“It’s been great for the confidence, especially through the second month of the season. It’s been nothing but great,” said Kelsey.
Notable: The Rebels can tie their franchise winning streak of 14 games set in the 2001-02 season with a victory in Swift Current . . . Captain Jayden Grubbe leads the Rebels with 15 points (4g,11a) while Kai Uchacz has six points in his last four games, is second in the league with 11 goals and is tied for second with four game-winners . . . Jhett Larson has points in five straight games (2g,3a) and fellow forward Kalan Lind has three assists in his last two games . . . Christoffer Sedoff is tied for third in WHL defence scoring with 13 points and fellow rearguard Hunter Mayo is tied for third in the league with four power-play goals . . . Uchacz and Mayo are tied for the league lead with plus/minus ratings of plus-13 . . . Second year forward Talon Brigley has four points (1g,3a) in his last two games . . . The Rebels own the league’s top overall special teams rating, sitting second on the power play at 29.3 per cent and second on the penalty kill at 88.9 per cent . . . The Rebels have corporate voucher and nine-game ticket packages available. For details call the office at 403-341-6000.