Change of heart, scenery for Verhelst as Rebels acquire veteran goaltender

Tyson Verhelst has had a change of heart and he’s getting a fresh start to go with it.

The 19-year-old goaltender, who had announced his retirement from hockey earlier this spring, was traded along with a third round pick (2017) from the Spokane Chiefs to the Red Deer Rebels Wednesday, with Dawson Weatherill and a fifth round pick (2018) heading south of the border in exchange.

“We were in a situation where we had a goalie who was on the suspended list in Verhelst and we wanted to clear that up,” said Scott Carter, general manager of the Chiefs, in a team release. “The best option for us involved taking another goalie in return, as we feel that this is an important position for us. We want competition and players pushing each other. Dawson has some big upside moving forward.”

A 6-foot, 194-pound product of Brandon, Man., Verhelst took a hold of the starter’s role in Spokane early in the 2015-16 campaign, going 23-22-1-4 with a 3.16 goals-against average (GAA), .892 save percentage (SP) and one shutout.

At the conclusion of the 2015-16 season, the veteran of 81 WHL regular season games announced he was retiring. The Chiefs went out and acquired 20-year-old Jayden Sittler to work in tandem with youngster Matt Berlin.

Meanwhile, the Rebels dealt 20-year-old Rylan Toth to the Seattle Thunderbirds while appearing to move forward with 20-year-old Trevor Martin and the 18-year-old Manitoba product Riley Lamb.

Through two games to start the season, the Rebels sit 0-0-1-1 with Martin registering a 2.77 GAA and .932 SP in his lone appearance. Lamb has etched out a 2.98 GAA and .909 SP in his lone start.

As for Weatherill, the 17-year-old product of Red Deer was a second round pick (37th) of the Rebels at the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft. On the other hand, Verhelst was originally a third round pick (58th) of the Chiefs at the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.

In 81 career WHL regular season contests, Verhelst is 34-33-1-4 with a 3.31 GAA, .883 SP and one shutout.

Weatherill, standing 6-foot-4 and weighing in at 190 pounds, is 1-1-0-0 in five career WHL regular season appearances, while carrying a 3.69 GAA and .881 SP. All of his outings came during the 2015-16 season as he is yet to suit up for the Rebels in 2016-17.

This marks the second deal in recent days for Sutter. On Saturday, he sent 1998-born forward Taden Rattie to the Vancouver Giants in exchange for a sixth round pick at the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft.

It’s also the second trade by Carter this week as he shipped 20-year-old Austrian import Dominic Zwerger to the Everett Silvertips in exchange for a third round pick at the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft.

The Rebels return to action on Friday (7 p.m. CST), when they visit the Moose Jaw Warriors. Next action for the Spokane Chiefs is Saturday (7:05 p.m. PST) when the Tri-City Americans visit the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.

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