Tarzwell happy to be home, fitting in nicely with Rebels
After a whirlwind weekend the likes of which he had never previously experienced, Josh Tarzwell was feeling right at home Monday.
There’s a good reason for that, of course. The newest member of the Red Deer Rebels is a local product.
Tarzwell, a 17-year-old centre, is also feeling more comfortable in his new Centrium surroundings.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s been an awesome couple of days and I couldn’t be happier to be here,” he said.
Tarzwell, who was acquired from the Lethbridge Hurricanes late Friday in exchange for veteran forward Lane Zablocki and a pair of bantam draft picks, was signing autographs with his ‘Canes teammates when he was summoned by GM Peter Anholt.
“It was right after a game versus Edmonton and I was called into the GM’s room and told I was traded,” he said.
However, he didn’t immediately know his destination.
“I was actually pretty scared. I didn’t know where I’d be going, but it turned out really well.”
After catching a few hours of sleep following his meeting with Anholt, Tarzwell bid adieu to his Lethbridge billets the next morning, drove to Red Deer and was in the Rebels lineup during Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss to Swift Current.
“My parents are very excited to have me back,” he said. “I think they were probably as happy, or happier, than I was.”
Tarzwell admitted he didn’t see the trade coming.
“I had no idea. This was all pretty sudden for me,” he said. “I was shocked with the way it happened. It was a pretty crazy 12 hours, honestly.
“But I’m feeling a lot more comfortable now and it’s really starting to hit me. Everything is good.”
Tarzwell played two seasons with the major bantam Red Deer Rebels White, scoring 17 goals and collecting 33 points in 32 games in his second year. He was then selected by the Hurricanes in the second round — 24th overall — of the 2015 Western Hockey League bantam draft.
He was a member of the midget AAA Red Deer as a 15-year-old in 2015-16 and notched nine goals and added nine assists in 32 regular-season games and contributed a goal and two helpers in five playoff outings.
Called up for two games with the ‘Hurricanes in ’15-16, Tarzwell found permanent employment with the team last season, in which he produced two goals and five points in 36 games and another three points (1g,2a) in 10 post-season contests as Lethbridge advanced to the Eastern Conference final.
Tarzwell, who also played six games with the minor midget AAA North Star Chiefs in the ’14-15 season — contributing two goals and two assists in the process — followed the Rebels closely during his minor hockey days.
“I used to come and watch when (Mathew) Dumba and those guys were playing,” he acknowledged. “It was hard not to be a Rebels fan.”
Tarzwell, who carries 197 pounds on his six-foot-two frame, is clearly on Hockey Canada’s radar after being a part of the Canada Red team in last winter’s World Under 17 Hockey Challenge in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
“I actually came back from that event feeling a lot more comfortable,” said Tarzwell, who had Rebels defenceman Dawson Barteaux as a Canada Red teammate and contributed one assist in five games.
“I had a great time and it was a nice break too.”
Now in his second major junior season, Tarzwell brings size, speed and a heavy shot to his new team.
“I like to be a physical player and try to use all three of those things to my advantage every night,” he stated.
Tarzwell, who will celebrate his 18th birthday in February, as of Monday had not sat down with Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter to fully discuss his role with the team. “We haven’t touched base on a whole lot yet but I’m still learning everything,” he said in reference to the likes of systems and practice routines. “I just have to play hard every night and things will come. I want to be one of the go-to guys here.”
Tarzwell will definitely be a major piece of the Rebels rebuild and on a shorter-term basis, insisted he’ll display a consistent solid work ethic as the club attempts to snap its current lengthy losing streak.
“I’m really excited. I want to go out and give it eveything every night,” he said.
“We’re doing a lot of things right from the looks of it. We played really well the other night and I think things are going to turn around here pretty quick.”
The Rebels close out the pre-Christmas portion of their schedule with two games this weekend — Friday at Medicine Hat and Saturday at home versus the Tri-City Americans.