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Assiniboia's Southern Rebels junior team reflect on their season

Assiniboia's Richardson Pioneer Southern Junior Rebels appreciate fans in the stands but also looks to community volunteers to help support the team in a variety of ways for their upcoming seasons

ASSINIBOIA — Director of Hockey Operations for the Richardson Pioneer Southern Rebels Junior Hockey Club, Curtis Nelson, said although the team had an early exit from playoffs, this season represented a lot of positives for the club.

As with many other sports organizations, it took some rebuilding efforts following the pandemic and Nelson said he was part of a whole new executive that took on rebuilding the team.

The Junior Rebels came from one regular season win per year for the last two years to a 24-point season that included 11 wins and a couple of overtime losses, which is a vast improvement.

“All games were competitive and they beat some of the top teams in the league. Our team, on any given night could beat any team in the league so this year represented a big plus for the club,” affirms Nelson.

The Rebels were the youngest team in the league by far with many players 17 years old playing against 19 and 20 years, which makes a big difference.

Nelson said there will only be one graduating player from this season.

Spring camp is set to run April 6-7 at Southland Co-op Centre and gives the club a good chance to see who is interested in their next season and for the team to evaluate what they have and what they may require for positions for the next hockey season. It appears there will be a number of returnees as Nelson said there is a good nucleus of players coming back.

“There is good local content on our roster and it definitely helped bring fans to stands. Players that migrated from U18 in Lafleche, Mossbank and Assiniboia made for some exciting players to watch.”

With a brand-new executive taking over the team, at times it felt a little like sink or swim so Nelson said they are looking into some community engagement options for next year.

The Smiles Per Mile Lotto is their major fundraiser and basically supports the team’s expenses for the season providing the majority of their income, along with assistance from gate receipts, 50/50 draws etc.

The team was led by head coach, Chic Volsky, defensive coach, Kia Lee and Allan Sinclar served as forwards coach.

The Rebels had the opportunity to host the Prairie Junior Hockey League All-Star weekend and it was very well received. Attendees remarked once again on the second to none facility and Nelson said he would claim the Southland Co-op Centre as the premier junior B facility in Western Canada.

The team’s executive will focus on tacking down additional players over the summer, and getting a good product on the ice so recruitment will be the main focus until the team suits up again for the next season in the fall.

Nelson credits Paul Tendler, Scout and director of player operations for his continued dedication and commitment to many aspects of the team besides player recruitment as he is at every game, looking after 50/50 sales and takes on many other tasks. He has been referred to in the community as the Rebels one man booster club.

Nelson said while the new executive is spread pretty thin at present just looking after hockey operations, they certainly would welcome volunteers to set up a Rebels Booster Club to help aid in funding opportunities and all the other duties required in successful season management, social media engagement, game day experiences and promotions of the local junior B hockey club.

There is a new sense of optimism for the Southern Rebels junior club, and with spring camp on the horizon, as well as the new executive having one season under their belts, hopes are high for more good things to come for the Junior B hockey team playing in the PJHL.