Jean Jr. appreciative of Americans for trading him to Rebels
There’s no place like home in the event of personal tragedy.
Dwayne Jean Jr. hails from the Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation near Fort McMurray and over the past year experienced some family catastrophes from afar as a member of the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash.
As a result, the 18-year-old forward recently approached Americans management with the wish to be dealt to a WHL team closer to home.
Tri-City GM Bob Tory and head coach Stu Barnes accommodated the second-year player last week by trading him to the Red Deer Rebels in return for a fourth-round selection in the 2024 WHL Prospects Draft.
“As soon as (the trade request was put forth) Bob Tory and Stu Barnes really helped me,” Jean Jr. said Thursday. “They gave me that option and I can’t thank them enough, the whole Tri-City organization.”
The 171-pound winger who stands just a shade under six feet, insisted he couldn’t have been dealt to a better location and better team. The Rebels are off to a 8-0-0-0 to start the season, a new franchise out-of-the-gate record.
“It’s awesome, we just broke a franchise record last night (with a 5-2 win over the visiting Calgary Hitmen) and it was great to be a part of that as a new guy,” he said. “We have a great group of guys in there and I feel that if we keep going the way we’re going we’re going to make a long run.”
Jean Jr. was billeted in the provincial capital while playing at the OHA Edmonton Hockey Academy from 2017 to 2020. He then suited up with the midget AAA Edmonton CAC Canadians in the 2020-21 season, scoring twice and recording nine points in six games.
The Americans signed him as a listed player in September of last year and he scored three goals and garnered 10 points in 53 games as a WHL rookie.
Jean Jr. got off to a fast start this season, potting two goals and adding two assists in five games with Tri-City before joining the Rebels. He’s pointless in three games with his new club while playing on a line with Craig Armstrong and Arjun Bawa, but is confident he can regain the early season momentum he had with the Americans.
“Obviously every year you want to break out, but I put in extra work during the summer, extra workouts, extra skating, so I’m just really hoping to get back on the point streak here,” he said.
“It’s been a few games since I’ve got one, but I’m more concerned about the team’s success right now than I am about myself. The points will come when they come and we’ll just have to wait and see when that happens.”
His excellent skating skills help make Jean Jr. an effective two-way threat.
“It’s a big part of my game. If I use my speed and I can jump up into the rush and play a whole 200-foot game,” he said. “I’ll be trying to get my feet under me again in these next few games.
“I haven’t really been myself the last few games. I’m just trying to get used to the systems, get used to the game speed here, it’s a bit different than the US Division. “I’m just trying to use my speed every time I get out there to forecheck, finish checks, get pucks deep and feed to them my teammates and create scoring chances.”
The Rebels coaching staff clearly sees a lot of potential in the newly-acquired forward as he’s been used on the power play which is ninth in the league with a 25.6 per cent success rate.
Jean. Jr. is grateful for the special teams opportunity.
“The coaching staff here is unbelievable,” he said. “Just the little things matter here a lot and I’m just starting to learn that.
“I can’t thank the coaching staff more for giving me the chances they’re giving me, the opportunities. I just have to capitalize on the opportunities on the power play.”
Notable: The Rebels are in Medicine Hat Friday to face the Tigers and host the Prince Albert Raiders Saturday . . . With a goal and an assist in Wednesday’s win, captain Jayden Grubbe is the Rebels’ top points producer with 11 in six games. His nine helpers is tied for fourth in the league . . . In just three games since rejoining the team from the pro ranks, Ben King has already notched four goals, including three on the power play, fourth-best in the league . . . . Netminder Kyle Kelsey is tied for fourth overall with a 1.85 goals-against average, is fourth in save percentage at .940 and is tied for first with seven wins. He’s also one of nine WHL goalies to post a shutout . . . The Rebels’ penalty kill is third at 88.2 per cent.