NFL, NBA, NHL stats

Barteaux Back from Dallas Stars Camp, Primed to Lead Young Rebels

September 20, 2019 - Western Hockey League (WHL) - Red Deer Rebels News Release

The second time around was clearly a different experience for defenceman Dawson Barteaux.

The Red Deer Rebels newly minted captain just returned from the Dallas Stars camp this week, the second time he's attended fall training with the NHL club since being selected in the sixth round of the 2018 entry draft.

"I kind of knew what I was walking into," he said Friday of his second training camp with the Stars. "I kind of knew what I needed to do and what I needed to be going in there.

"I feel like it was a successful camp but I'm happy to be back with the Rebels and ready to get it (WHL regular season) going."

Barteaux played with the Stars' prospects in the annual rookie tournament in Traverse City, Mich., this fall and also suited up with the big club in a preseason game versus the St. Louis Blues.

"It was definitely a heavy, fast game. It was a good experience just learning what level I have to get to," he said. "It was definitely surreal. Since I was a little kid I've dreamed of something like that.

"To actually get a chance, even it was just a preseason game . . . it was super special. I just had to take it shift by shift and just do my best."

The 19-year-old will enter the Rebels' 2019-20 WHL season - which opens Saturday with the Edmonton Oil Kings visiting the Centrium - as Red Deer's premier defender.

He's the official on-ice leader of a rebuilding team with a roster top-heavy in players 17 years of age and younger.

Unlike their opening-night opponent, the Rebels are undergoing a youth movement and won't be mentioned in the same breath as the Oil Kings and the Calgary Hitmen in rearguards to expectations for the upcoming campaign.

Barteaux has a message for the Rebels doubters.

"Nobody can count us out," he insisted. "We might be young but we're not going to get outworked by anybody and I definitely think we're going to surprise some teams.

"I know I'm OK with being an underdog. That's less pressure on us. Those teams who are contenders right now will have to watch out for us for sure."

The Red Deer roster features 10 rookies, including 16-year-olds Jayden Grubbe and Kyle Masters. Barteaux, acquired from the Regina Pats in the 2016-17 season, his first in the league, will pass on his knowledge to this year's crop of first-timers.

The Rebels might be young, Barteaux conceded, but on the plus side the first-year players are all skilled and eager to learn.

"They're here for a reason and they have the best coaching staff in the league to help them through it," he said. "I know when I was 16, getting traded here was a really good thing for me.

"I learned a lot and Brent (Rebels GM/head coach Sutter) gave me a lot of chances even when I did make some mistakes. These younger guys are all good players, they all deserve to be here and they're going to make their way in this league."

The Rebels' freshmen might be a bit nervous prior to Saturday's season opener, but they won't be lacking in energy, Barteaux suggested.

"They'll definitely be excited and will hopefully get the jitters out after the warmups and be ready to settle in and work hard and play the Rebels' way," he said.

The Oil Kings will open the season as co-favorites - with the Hitmen - to finish first in the Central Division.

Edmonton lost its top three point producers from last season in Trey-Fix Wolansky, Vince Loschiavo and Quinn Benjafield. But the likes of forwards Jake Neighbours, Carter Souch, Josh Williams, Riley Sawchuk and Dylan Guenther, along with blueline anchor Matthew Robertson, a New York Rangers second-round draft pick, should be able to pick up the slack.

Barteaux has butted heads with the Oil Kings many times over the past several seasons. He's impressed with Edmonton's talent and speed, but insisted they can be beat Saturday.

"Just being in the same division, we've been rivals forever. They're a good team, they're fast and they move the puck well," said Barteaux.

"But if we can get the puck deep and work their 'D', just work harder than them and get pucks on net, we'll be fine. Everything will work out for the best."

Meanwhile, the Rebels parted ways with soon to be 18-year-old forward Blake Sydlowski this week. The St. Albert native has joined the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the AJHL.

Sydlowski scored one goal and added two assists in 35 games with the Rebels last season and contributed one assist in three preseason games this fall.

• Discuss this story on the Western Hockey League message board...

Western Hockey League Stories from September 20, 2019

The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.