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NA Now: Philadelphia Rebels

September 2, 2023

The NA Now series features a look at all 32 teams in the NAHL for the 2023-24 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.

Philadelphia Rebels

Head Coach: Justin Hale (2nd season)

2022-23 record: 60 GP, 27-30-3, 57 pts. (6th in the East Division)

2022-23 leading scorer: David Deputy (53 points)

2023 Playoffs: Did Not Qualify

2023-24 Division: East

First regular season game: Friday, September 8th vs. Rochester Jr. Americans

Home opener: Friday, September 22nd vs. Johnstown Tomahawks

The Rebels returned to Philadelphia with a new face behind the bench as first-year head coach Justin Hale led the rebellion. It was an up and down year for red, white, and blue as they finished the season 27-30-3 and missed out on the postseason party. The Rebels saw eight of their players earn NCAA commitments with five of those being at the Division I level.

“We took our lumps early, for a long stretch to start the year we were one of the youngest teams in the league. I thought we had to work through what it took to be successful, night in and night out of the junior level,” Hale explained. “It’s a different level of commitment, a different level of detail and compete. I thought we learned that early on and around the Thanksgiving and Christmas, once they got their bearings, we started playing winning hockey.”

Being one of the league’s youngest teams means they will be returning a lot of players from last year’s club. Leading that charge is forward Max Hamstad. The Hugo, Minnesota native has been in the NAHL for two seasons, scoring 16 goals and adding 28 assists to give him 44 points. He’s appeared in 114 career games and has 28 goals and 69 points in that time. The Rebels also return forwards Greg Spitznagel and Klaus Jogi. Both players each found the back of the net 11 times. Spitznagel finished the year with 31 points while Jogi had 26. Rookie Tyler Stern logged nine goals and 26 points last season while Kristians Samitis and Charles Panchinsin also return for another year with the Rebels up front.

“Max has been a part of the Rebels, going on his third year here. He should be a big guy for us production wise. Tyler Stern is coming back as an ‘04 and looking to take a big step,” said Hale speaking on his returners.

On the blue line, the captain Luke De Vries will be back for his third year of junior hockey. He had six goals and 27 points in 2022-23 while sporting 39 career points in 107 appearances. Bryce Strand will be back as well defending for the Rebels. As a rookie, he appeared in 36 contests for Philadelphia, scoring a goal and four points.

Watch: NA Now video interview with Justin Hale

“Luke de Vries took a big step in his journey last year and he’ll take another step this upcoming year. I think we have some good younger players through our draft and tender process as well that are going to step in and play big roles and be good players to develop and hopefully move up to higher levels as well,” Hale said.

In the crease, Jakub Krbacek is moving on which means the net belongs to Jack Fialkoff. The New York City native saw the ice 14 times a season ago registering a record of 2-7. He had a 3.68 goals against average to go with a .895 save percentage and one shutout.

“Every single night the competition is great so we’re going to have to show up and play. I think the big message with our group is with so many returners coming back, having reasonable expectations that we are making improvements daily. That we are sticking to the process of continually trying to develop every single day so that we’re better individually and collectively as a whole,” exclaimed Hale.

“It’s reasonable to expect that if weren’t in the playoff last year and we were around .500 that we should be above .500, that we should be making the playoffs, that we should be more and more competitive and pushing the envelope to be one of the better teams in our division,” Hale continued.

With a large group of motivated returners, the Rebels have the expectations of being in the Robertson Cup postseason picture. The season kicks off next Friday as they open up the year against the Rochester Jr. Americans.

Next Up: Rochester Jr. Americans

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