NA Now: Philadelphia Rebels
The NA Now series features a look at all 29 teams in the NAHL for the 2022-23 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. NA Now looks into each NAHL team including interviews with all the head coaches in the NAHL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the season, including taking a look at their strengths as a team and thoughts on the league. It will also take a look back on last season and how each team fared and what they accomplished.
Head Coach: Justin Hale (1st Season)
2021-22 record: 60 GP, 35-22-3, 73 pts. (3rd in the East Division) *as the Jamestown Rebels
2021-22 leading scorer: John Lundy (57 points) *as the Jamestown Rebels
2022 Playoffs: Lost to the New Jersey Titans in the East Division Finals *as the Jamestown Rebels
2022-23 Division: East
First regular season game: Wednesday, September 14th vs. Corpus Christi IceRays
Home opener: Friday, September 23rd vs. Maryland Black Bears
One of the few changes in the NAHL for the upcoming 2022-23 season will be the addition of the Philadelphia Rebels. Back on May 17th, the NAHL announced that the Jamestown Rebels had been sold and relocated to Sewell, New Jersey, where they will play out of the Hollydell Ice Arena as the Philadelphia Rebels in 2022-23.
The Rebels enjoyed several years of success in the Philadelphia area before moving to Jamestown. The team had moved originally from McAllen, Texas, to Aston, PA in 2015. After three years in Aston and Philadelphia the team then relocated to Jamestown, NY. The team made back-to-back appearances at the Robertson Cup in both 2016 and 2017. In 2017, the team lost to the Lone Star Brahmas, 3-0 in the Robertson Cup Championship Game. This past season, the Jamestown Rebels finished 3rd in the East Division regular season standings and made it all the way to the East Division Finals, where they fell to the eventual Robertson Cup Champion New Jersey Titans in the maximum five games, which included a 3-2 loss in triple overtime in the fifth and deciding game of the series.
The first job of business for the team was finding a new head coach, as the previous head coach, Joe Coombs had accepted the head coaching job with the NAHL’s El Paso Rhinos. In late June, the Rebels found their man in the form of former NAHL assistant coach Justin Hale. Hale had spent the previous three seasons as an assistant coach with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL. At Dubuque, Hale had responsibility for the forward group while also running the penalty kill and serving as coaching staff liaison for team academics. Prior to joining Dubuque, Hale served as an assistant coach, director of player personnel and goalie coach for the Lone Star Brahmas in the NAHL. Prior to Lone Star, he was an assistant coach and goalie coach for Bemidji State University and a volunteer assistant for the Madison Capitals of the USHL.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to be a head coach in the NAHL. The ownership has been great throughout the entire process and the area is wonderful,” said Hale. “It’s been a fun journey so far. I am very familiar with the NAHL thanks to my time as an assistant in Lone Star and have been learning every step of the way. Wherever I have been, I have just tried to absorb as much knowledge as I could so that I would be prepare for an opportunity like the one I have in front of me.”
The Rebels headed into the NAHL Draft with a certain type of mindset and player they were looking for. Four of their first five picks were either defensemen or goalies. “I thought it was important to build from the back end out. We started with experience along the blueline and in goal. We also added some forwards that were a mixture of skill and grit. We have a well-rounded group as we enter training camp here in a week,” said Hale.
The Rebels also have a solid core of returning players from last year’s team that was one goal away from winning the East Finals and returning to the Robertson Cup. Forward Max Hamstad leads that group as he is coming off a rookie season where he recorded 25 points and finished 6th in team scoring. Another forward that will be back is Connor Sedlak, who had 17 points in 45 games played during his rookie season.
Along the blueline both Joe Calvarino and Luke DeVries will return. Calvarino, who is committed to play NCAA Division I hocket for Vermont, gets to play closer to his home in Brooklyn, NY, and thrived with the Rebels last season after a trade from Wichita Falls, recording 15 points in 31 games. DeVries posted 12 points in 52 games played during his rookie campaign.
“There is a strong core of guys coming back from last year’s team in Jamestown that went through a heck of a playoff run, pushing the eventual champs to the limit, so I know they will be hungry to try and take that next step. The big thing they all spoke about was the tightness and cohesiveness of the group in the lockerroom last season so it will be a good foundation to start with,” said Hale.
Next Up: Oklahoma Warriors