By Darryl G. Smart
When you watch Adrian Rebelo on the ice during a Brantford 99ers game, you’d be shocked to see how old he is.
Smooth skating, great with the puck and not afraid to get dirty when he needs to, the 17-year-old rookie from Hamilton has stood out in the early going of the Ontario Junior Hockey League season.
His play hasn’t only caught the attention of the 99ers coaching staff, but well beyond. On Tuesday, the NHL released its Central Scouting Preliminary Players to Watch list for the 2022 NHL Draft, and Rebelo was among the four players from the OJHL on the list.
“He plays like a 20-year-old,” 99ers owner and general manager Darren DeDobbelaer said of his young forward. “He’s aggressive on the puck, finishes his checks and has a very high IQ. The sky’s the limit for this kid.”
In six games with the 99ers, Rebelo has three goals and two assists.
“The kid is not only a very good player but a first class citizen,” DeDobbelaer said. “I couldn’t be happier for him.”
On Sunday at the Gretzky Centre, Rebelo didn’t record a point, but helped the 99ers win their third-straight game, a 3-2 victory over the Markham Royals.
Ethan Klemen gave the 99ers a first-period lead, before Khaden Henry and Noah Tyrell responded for the Royals in the second frame.
But the 99ers showed that grit they’ve had all season so far and bounced back with goals from Easton Wainright and Brendan Anderson.
Ben Bonisteel was busy between the 99ers pipes and backstopped his team to the win with a 38-stop performance. Ethan Cook made 31 saves in a losing effort.
The 99ers improved to 4-2 in a very tough OJHL West Division. Thursday the home stand continues with a game against the Milton Menace at 7:30pm., before hitting the road Friday against the Burlington Cougars at 7:30pm.
ICE CHIPS: The Canadian Junior Hockey League came out with its latest top-20 rankings. While the OJHL has four teams in the top-20 nationally, two are in the West Division with the 99ers. The Georgetown Raiders are second and Cougars are fifth. The Trenton Golden Hawks are the top-ranked team in the country, while the North York Rangers are ninth.