Rebels and Oil Kings conclude season series on Sportsnet’s Saturday Showcase
Red Deer Rebels (16-25-10-3) at Edmonton Oil Kings (14-31-5-2)
Saturday, February 10 –Rogers Place 1:30 p.m. (Mountain)
Channels: Sportsnet, Sportsnet Now, WHL Live
With Alberta roots, a rich and storied fanbase with league-wide success, numerous NHL alumni and a Mastercard Memorial Cup on their resume since the turn of the century, you’d be hard pressed to go around the Western Hockey League and find two provincial or state rivals who were more alike than the Red Deer Rebels and Edmonton Oil Kings.
On Sportsnet’s Saturday Showcase, the next chapter of that rivalry will play out in the final meeting of the regular season series inside Rogers Place with plenty to play for on both sides.
The Rebels will be primarily focused on garnering a sweep of the Oil Kings to wrap up a home-and-home series, but there’s a new target for them to focus on now as part of the larger scale of their season.
A 6-2-2-0 stretch in their past 10 games has sparked the fuel to a comeback by the Rebels in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Entering play Friday, the Rebels sit four points behind the Kootenay ICE for the final playoff spot in the Central Division and 10 points behind the Saskatoon Blades and Prince Albert Raiders for the second wild card spot.
Since the WHL’s Trade Deadline, the Rebels are 6-3-3-0, greatly aiding their chances at extend their streak of consecutive playoff appearances to five years. It certainly is a team effort that’s sparked the Rebels of late, but it wouldn’t be fair to list the top contributors to the team’s success without first starting in net.
Rookie Ethan Anders, sported a 3-1-3-0 record, 2.22 goals-against-average, and .939 save percentage in the month of January, earning him honours as the WHL Goaltender of the Week and the WHL’s Rookie of the Month. Riley Lamb helped the Rebels double down on their awards by also taking WHL Goaltender of the Week honours, marking the first time this season goaltenders from the same club have won the award in back-to-back weeks.
Overage forward Mason McCarty and Kristian Reichel have paced the Rebels offensively, with both recording 10 points each in their last 12 games. McCarty led the Rebels with seven goals over that stretch while Reichel had a pair of overtime-winners and then notched the shootout-winner against the Calgary Hitmen Wednesday.
On the road, the Rebels are 8-11-6-1, but that is a bit of a misleading figure when considering they’re 3-0-1-1 in their last five contests outside of Central Alberta. Considering that 10 of their final 18 games have them slotted as the visiting side and the Rebels may be just in the early stage of their success.
For the Oil Kings, there’s plenty of optimism behind the present and the future. Trey Fix-Wolansky registered 19 points (7G-12A) in 14 games during January to lead the Oil Kings and has put together a splendid second WHL season with 61 points (22G-39A) in 52 games, setting career-highs in assists, points and soon he’ll pass the goal total as well.
Tomas Soustal has also put together a strong overage season with 44 points (13G-31A) in 49 games while captain Colton Kehler has 38 points (23G-15A) in 51 games, leading the team in goals.
The youth movement on the Oil Kings has already begun though, with some of those players making a strong impact in the lineup. Brett Kemp is one of those young players the Oil Kings are hopeful will lead them back to early 2010s era of Eastern Conference titles and Memorial Cups, but that process is still ongoing.
Kemp is tied for the team lead with game-winning goals, having already notched four this season. His 25 points (13G-12A) in 49 games marks a strong showing for the 2015 second round WHL Bantam Draft pick and his 12 even-strength goals rank third behind only Fix-Wolansky and Kehler.
There’s a reason the kid was listed on the midterm ranks by NHL Central Scouting, albeit in the 166th spot. Teams who pass on him in later rounds this year may come to regret it in 2019 though.
Defenceman Matthew Robertson has adjusted decently well in his first full season with the Oil Kings, sitting third in defensive scoring as a rookie with nine points (4G-5A) in 47 games, including time spent with Canada representing at the 2017 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge back in November. The Oil Kings’ first-round selection from the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft is the younger brother Tyler Robertson, part of that Mastercard Memorial Cup winning squad in 2014. Now, it’s the younger Robertson’s turn to to make his mark on the Oil Kings franchise and get them close to that ultimate goal once again.
On the horizon for the Oil Kings are the likes of forward Jake Neighbours, the team’s first-round selection, third overall, from the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft who had a strong performance for Alberta at the 2017 WHL Cup and figures to be a lock for next season’s roster.
Despite falling on hard times recently with a 2-7-1-0 stretch, home is where the Oil Kings could find time to strike against a provincial rival. Their power play rises when in the friendly confines of Rogers Place while the Red Deer Rebels have also seen a dip in their road penalty kill as opposed to their overall average for the season. They’re also 3-for-8 on the power play at home against the Rebels this season, a facet of the game they’ll definitely want to utilize come Saturday’s game.
The power play could also be beneficial to the Rebels, who have converted on 4-of-9 opportunities inside Rogers Place as well.
Fans of both sides will also get a chance to get reacquainted with the Mastercard Memorial Cup Saturday as the 100th Mastercard Memorial Cup Tour rolls through Edmonton.
Find out how the final game of the regular season series plays out between the Red Deer Rebels and Edmonton Oil Kings on Sportsnet’s Saturday Showcase!
— Red Deer Rebels (@Rebelshockey) February 9, 2018
Red Deer Rebels
Head coach: Brent Sutter
Leading scorers: RW Mason McCarty (27-24-51); LW Grayson Pawlenchuk (16-25-41); C Kristian Reichel (20-18-38)
Leading goaltender: Ethan Anders (34 GP, 9-14-6-1, 2.94 GAA, .909 SV%, 1 SO)
Power play: 20th – 16.9%
Penalty kill: 16th – 76.9%
Injuries/unavailable: D Colin Paradis (upper body, indefinite)
This morning, #OilKings Head Coach @hamilton_steve & his father, Edmonton Oil Kings & @EdmontonOilers Alumni Al Hamilton, visited the Edmonton Garrison with the Memorial Cup as part of the @CHLHockey's 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Memorial Cup! Photos📸: pic.twitter.com/utAr5i0c6A
— Edmonton Oil Kings (@EdmOilKings) February 8, 2018
Edmonton Oil Kings
Head coach: Steve Hamilton
Leading scorers: RW Trey Fix-Wolansky (22-39-61); C Tomas Soustal (13-31-44); RW Colton Kehler (23-15-38)
Leading goaltender: Todd Scott (28 GP, 10-10-3-1, 4.02 GAA, 0.874 SV%)
Power play: 21st – 16.4%
Penalty kill: 22nd – 70.4%
Injuries/Unavailable: D Will Warm (upper body, day-to-day); F Scott Atkinson (lower body, TBD); G Boston Bilous (illness, week-to-week)
Sept. 23 – Edmonton 3 at Red Deer 7
Sept. 24 – Red Deer 5 at Edmonton 3
Dec. 27 – Edmonton 3 at Red Deer 1
Dec. 28 – Red Deer 5 at Edmonton 3
Feb. 9 – Edmonton at Red Deer
Feb. 10 – Red Deer at Edmonton*
*Sportsnet Saturday Showcase broadcast