It’s been a breakout campaign for Chase Wutzke.
The 17-year-old Debden product has made the most of the opportunity to be a full-time contributor in goal for the Red Deer Rebels this season.
The former Saskatoon Contact has blossomed in 21 games in the Rebel crease this season posting a 15-2-1-2 record, a 2.24 Goals Against Average and a .922 save percentage.
Wutzke says he has noticed a significant jump into the WHL from the SMAAAHL, where he played last season, posting a .922 save percentage and 2.16 Goals Against Average.
“The Western League’s really fast, and you just got to kill your mind into working faster and working harder. Shots are definitely at a different pace than the AAA league in Saskatchewan.”
The Rebels are currently one of the hottest teams in the WHL riding a 12 game point streak. They sit in third place in the WHL’s Eastern Conference with a 27-14-3-1 record and sit just three points back of the Medicine Hat Tigers for the top spot in the Central Division with two games in hand.
The Rebels have allowed the second fewest goals in the WHL this season allowing 123 goals in 45 games, an average of 2.7 goals per game. Only the Saskatoon Blades have allowed fewer goals at 122 goals in 47 games.
Wutzke says the key to the success for the Rebels has been the strong chemistry the team possesses.
“I think the boys are gluing and gelling pretty good. We’re all getting along good in the dressing room and everybody’s kind of just putting in that extra work to keep going and get the wins in.”
Despite their position in the standings at the WHL trade deadline earlier this month, the Rebels stood pat and did not make any significant additions to their roster, only making three total trades during the entire season.
Wutzke says there is a sense of confidence within the Red Deer dressing room knowing that they’ve had the same key players all year long.
“We’ve been a team that’s been stuck together for a while now. We didn’t make any trades come the deadline. We’re a team where we haven’t changed anybody and this is the team we’re going to have for the rest of the year.”
Wutzke was selected in the second round of the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft, 40th overall, by the Rebels. The pick used to select Wutzke was originally acquired from the Winnipeg ICE (who have since relocated to Wenatchee) on Jan. 10, 2020 as part of the package the Rebels received for Dawson Barteaux, who was their captain at the time of the move.
Wutzke says he remembers the day he was drafted by the Rebels very well.
“I was with some family and friends. They were kind of having a little get-together and watching the draft. It was pretty cool to become a Red Deer Rebel. It’s such a storied organization and it’s great being a part of them.”
At the time of publishing, the 17-year-old Wutzke is ranked 13th amongst North American goaltenders according to NHL Central Scouting’s rankings ahead of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft, which will take place at The Sphere in Las Vegas from June 28-29.
Other WHL names on the North American goaltender rankings include Dawson Cowan (#5, Spokane), Lukas Matecha (#9, Tri-City), Jackson Unger (#18, Moose Jaw), Harrison Meneghin (#26, Lethbridge) and teammate Rhett Stoesser (#28, Red Deer)
Wutzke says he isn’t putting any pressure on himself on a nightly basis, which has helped him succeed
“It’s just another game. You can’t have a whole bunch of stress on yourself.. Play it out how it happens. Control what you can control.”
Wutzke and the Rebels are in Prince Albert on Wednesday night to take on the Raiders. Puck drops at 7 p.m.