Tuesday, December 29, 2015

REBELS: Skill and Size improved with additions of DeBrusk and Rattie

There's no secret about what Taden Rattie is expected to bring to the Red Deer Rebels.

The team acquired Rattie's WHL rights from Portland Monday in exchange for a 4th round pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft. Rattie reported to the Rebels Tuesday morning. 

He's here to make his imposing presence felt and make the Rebels a tougher team to play against, and Rattie has the credentials.

"My size factor, they [Brent and Shaun Sutter] talked about it," Rattie said prior to his first practice with the Rebels. "I'm 6'4" so I've got to use my body out there, finish checks and just forecheck hard and do what I can."

The Airdrie native has racked up 297 penalty minutes in 87 career games in the AJHL, including 142 in 34 games with the Calgary Mustangs this season (3rd in the league).

However, one should also note that Rattie managed to collect 19 points on a team that lost 29 (!) games in a row. The potential for him to chip in offensively is there as well.

Rattie failed to catch on with Portland, where his brother Ty starred for four seasons. The Winterhawks listed Taden as a 15-year-old, two days after he was passed over in the WHL Bantam Draft, and invited him to training camp. That's as far as it went before he left to play Junior A for Whitecourt (where he played with Rebels forward Brandon Hagel) and, later, the Mustangs.

Rattie had committed to play NCAA hockey with Western Michigan but was quick to say "yes" to joining the Rebels. He says watching his brother made him long for another chance to play in the WHL.

"I saw him playing there and it's a great league. Nothing against NCAA, but it's just a good jump for my career right now."

Not surprisingly, Rattie says the chance to play in the 2016 Mastercard Memorial Cup also played a big role in his decision.

Rattie was given a 'C' rating by NHL Central Scouting in their latest Players to Watch list for the 2016 NHL Draft.


Meantime, life is starting to become somewhat normal again for Jake DeBrusk.

The Boston Bruins first rounder needed his billet brother's car (his was froze over) to get from Swift Current to Red Deer in time for Sunday's game versus Edmonton. Since then he's suited up for two games with the Rebels, scoring twice and adding an assist.

He finally practiced with the Rebels for the first time Tuesday morning. DeBrusk says he is looking forward to settling in with a team that can consistently roll with four lines.

"That's really nice to have because in Swift Current we didn't necessarily roll four, we kind of rolled two or three. So, that makes a big difference, especially for guys like me."

Despite the hectic 72 hours he's been through, DeBrusk says the transition from Swift Current to Red Deer has been a smooth one. 

"Lots of good guys around and a real easy transition, to be honest. I've known a couple of guys before, that helps a lot, too. But, the group of guys here is unreal."

DeBrusk says he is feeling better each game out after missing more than three weeks in November with a lower body injury.

"Came back a little early, making a push trying to get some games. Came maybe too early but it's getting better."

The Rebels are back in action New Year's Eve as they head to Cranbrook to battle the Kootenay Ice.

[Full audio from today's chats with Rattie and DeBrusk is available at my Soundcloud page].

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