Tuesday’s final training camp scrimmage sets table for competitive Black and White Game
What you saw is what you’ll get.
The players who competed in Tuesday’s final Red Deer Rebels training camp scrimmage — a mix of rookie and main camp participants — will make up the rosters for Wednesday’s Black and White intrasquad game, set for 7 p.m. at the Peavey Mart Centrium.
The contest will be devoid of a number of Rebels veterans, including 20-year-olds Jace Isley, Blake Gustafson, Ben King, newcomer Tanner Brown and Chris Sedoff.
“Plus we have a couple of guys who are sore. We’ll see what they’re like tomorrow,” said GM Brent Sutter.
Regardless, Tuesday’s scrimmage was an aggressive affair, with Team Black prevailing 3-1 on goals from veterans Carter Anderson, Jace Weir and Kai Uchacz, who scored into an empty net following a pass from fellow returnee Franstisek Formanek.
Carson Birnie, a prospective rookie this season, notched the lone goal in a losing cause.
“It’s been a really good camp with a lot of good players. It’s been a really competitive camp,” said Sutter. “The veterans have led the way and we’ve been really happy with everything.”
Import defenceman Vojtech Port, 17, looked like a keeper in the scrimmage, as did 16-year-old American rearguard Quentin Bourne. Both were impressive in main camp and both have signed with the club.
Two other Americans, Jonah Jasser, 16, who was in main camp, and rookie camper Jeremiah Roberts, 15, have yet to sign with the Rebels although the team is certainly interested in inking both players to standard WHL contracts.
“We’ll see how he does in the Black and White game tomorrow,” Sutter said of Jasser, a Texas native. “We don’t think he’s quite ready yet but we’ll make that decision tomorrow.
“He probably needs a bit more time, there’s no need to rush these kids. He can go back and play in Cleveland this year if something happens that he doesn’t play here. They have a really good (U17) program there.”
Roberts, meanwhile, stood out in rookie camp and looks very much like a major junior star in the making.
“We’ve talked to him and we’re certainly hoping that he’ll sign,” said Sutter. “He and his dad and grandparents are going back to Colorado Thursday.
“We’ve talked to him and we’ll see where it goes. It’s his and his family’s decision. He’s played really well here.”
Red Deer’s first pick in this year’s WHL Prospects Draft, defenceman Luke Vlooswyk of Calgary, impressed Sutter in rookie camp, as did second round selection Matthew Gard of Winnipeg.
“Obviously (Vlooswyk) was our first pick so you expect him to be a good player,” said Sutter.
Both of the two top 2002 draft picks have signed with the Rebels and both have an excellent chance of making the team as 16-year-olds next year.
“Gard had a really good rookie camp and that’s why he’s up here. He’s a big kid who played centre ice for the first time last year after always playing defence. That’s impressive,” said Sutter. “He’s smart, a big rangy kid who skates well and moves the puck.
“We’re excited about all of our picks. I think all of our picks this year have been really good.”
Sutter also praised 2021 seventh-round draft pick Escalus Burlock of Edmonton, who looked right at home in main camp as a 16-year-old.
“We’ll see what happens there. We really think he’s pushing to play at this level now,” said the Rebels boss. “We’d like to sign him, get him into some exhibition games and see where it goes.”
As for the veterans . . .
“They’ve all been good,” said Sutter. “They’ve all worked extremely hard and they’ve been leading the way here.”
The Rebels will open their preseason schedule Friday versus the Hitmen in Calgary, then will host the Hitmen 24 hours later.
Red Deer will play a home-and-home preseason set with the Lethbridge Hurricanes the following weekend before taking on the Edmonton Oil Kings Sept. 23 in the Alberta capital and Sept. 24 at the Centrium to kick off the regular season.
Black and White game rosters (x-denotes veteran):
Goal — Kyle Kelsey, Aven Maxcy.
Defence — x-Matteo Fabrizi, x-Jace Weir, Derek Thurston, Vojtech Port, Rylan Bray, Luke Vlooswyk, Reece Gault.
Forwards — x-Carter Anderson, x-Kai Uchacz, x-Frantisek Formanek, Arjun Bawa, Ollie Josephson, x-Craig Armstrong, Jonah Jasser, Jeremiah Roberts, Mason Karakochuk, Cohen Poulin, Matthew Gard, Slade Firkus, Cole Connolly.
Goal — Chase Wutzke, Rhett Stoesser.
Defence — x-Mats Lindgren, x-Hunter Mayo, Quentin Bourne, Boston Harkness, Tate Dolinsky, Sam Rousseau, Jaxan Hopko.
Forwards — Carson Birnie, x-Jayden Grubbe, x-Talon Brigley, x-Jhett Larson, x-Kalan Lind, Escalus Burlock, Harrison Boldt, Evan Smith, Zane Saab, Steven Steranka, Carter Cole, Bryson Aikens, Ahmed Assaf.