Second year defenceman Mayo continuing positive development

Photos by Rob Wallator

Ask Ryan Colville about the progression of Hunter Mayo, and the Red Deer Rebels assistant coach has nothing but praise for the young defenceman.

“I think he’s taken huge steps this year,” Colville said Thursday. “He really worked hard in the summer and from the beginning of the season until now there’s been exponential growth. 

“He’s playing with confidence and he’s been more physical. He’s gotten way better.”

Mayo suggested that as the team goes, he goes. And so far, so good, with the Rebels sporting a 14-7-1-0 mark almost one-third of the way through the Western Hockey League season.

“I feel like the team is really coming together well, there’s such good chemistry between all the guys,” said the six-foot-one, 200-pound blueliner. “For myself I feel like I’ve been progressing quite a bit and making pretty big steps, getting to see more and more ice time throughout the season.”

The 17-year-old appeared in just six games — partly due to injury — during the pandemic shortened 2000-21 season and said the experience was invaluable.

“Just being able to play on the team as a 16-year-old . . . the few games that I played really helped me understand how the league is and how you have to adapt to the pace,” said the product of Martensville, Sask. “That’s really helped me a lot this year.”

Mayo has played in all but one of the Rebels’ 22 outings this season and while he’s yet to score, he has registered seven assists and is an impressive plus-9 in the plus-minus category, numbers that boost his status as a two-way defenceman.

“He’s a guy who just plays hard, he keeps pucks moving and defends our net,” said Colville. “He’s getting points by getting pucks to our forwards and getting pucks to the net in the offensive zone.”

“Now that I’m more comfortable in the league I’m starting to bring more offence into my game,” said Mayo, who scored 13 goals and collected 32 points as a 15-year-old playing midget AAA hockey with the Saskatoon Blazers.


The Rebels’ first pick — 23rd overall — in the 2019 WHL bantam draft, Mayo has been playing third-pairing minutes with 16-year-old rookie Matteo Fabrizi this season.

‘We’ve actually bonded quite a bit and we’re getting used to each other on the back end,” said Mayo. “Things have been good.”

Mayo credits the coaching staff, including first-year head man Steve Konowalchuk and new assistant Mike Egener, who’s in charge of the defence, for his growth.

“I like our new coaches with the way they run things. We get a lot of video and they’re always giving teaching points before and after practice,” he said. “They’re always helping us out, going over video with us.”

Mayo has progressed to the point that he’s been playing on one of the Rebels’ special teams.

“He’s starting to work a little more on the penalty kill, which is going to be a big thing for him to learn,” said Colville. “It’s encouraging to see he’s really taken strides in that area.

“Just the all around growth he’s shown this season has been really exciting.”

The Rebels host the Saskatoon Blades Friday and welcome the Regina Pats to the Peavey Mart Centrium Saturday.

Rebels vs. Saskatoon Blades

Friday, 7 p.m., Peavey Mart Centrium

The Blades enter the contest with a 11-7-1-0 record, good for second place in the East Division . . . C Tristen Robins has paced the Blades offensively with 11 goals and 28 points, followed by LW Kyle Crnkovic (10-13-23) and D Aidan De La Gorgendiere (1-15-16). LW Brandon Lisowsky has tallied nine goals . . . C Ben King leads the Rebels scoring parade with 23 points, including 14 goals, while LW Arshdeep Bains (8-14-22), RW Blake Stevenson (8-11-19), C Kai Uchacz (7-12-19) and D Christoffer Sedoff (1-17-18) are next in line . . . Nolan Maier has played the majority of games (16) in the Saskatoon net and sports a 9-5-1-0 record with a 2.83 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. Ethan Chadwick is 2-2-0 with a 4.01 GAA and a save percentage of .873 . . . For the Rebels, Chase Coward and Connor Ungar have identical GAA’s and save percentages of 2.37 and .916. Coward is 8-6-0 with one shutout and Ungar has a 6-1-1 record.

Injuries: Saskatoon — D Rhett Rhinehart (lower body, day-to-day). Red Deer — D Matteo Fabrizi (upper body, TBD), C Josh Medernach (lower body, indefinite), D Joel Sexsmith (upper body, day-to-day), C Ethan Rowland (upper body, indefinite).

Special teams: Saskatoon — Power play 27.1 per cent, third overall; penalty kill 80 per cent, 13th. Red Deer — Power play 25 per cent, fourth overall; penalty kill 81.6 per cent, eighth.

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