Midget Rebels finish season strong
It would have been easy for the Red Deer Optimist Rebels Chiefs to have a let-down against the Leduc Oil Kings Sunday afternoon.
After all, they had wrapped up first place overall in the Alberta Midget Hockey League with a 7-3 victory over the Calgary Buffaloes Friday.
But that’s not in their nature.
In fact the defending national champions may have been sharper than they were Friday as they rolled over the Oil Kings 7-1 in their final AMHL regular season game.
“Generally I’ve been really happy with the way we’ve played since Christmas,” said Rebels head coach Doug Quinn. “We’ve been getting better, stronger and we’ve gained a lot of confidence. We’re also starting to score some goals. There’s a lot more creativity than there was earlier in the season.”
And it’s not just one line that’s doing the damage.
“Today we got goals from all four lines, which was the case last game as well,” said Quinn. “It doesn’t matter who we put out there we’re getting offence from everybody.”
The Rebels got goals from seven different players with Ian McLellan connecting in the first period and Jacob Schofield and Colton Bobyk in the middle stanza.
Jack Goranson, Logan Hermus, Rory Davidson and Chase Thudium scored in the final frame.
Despite the offensive outburst the game was in doubt until late in the second period. Schofield connected at 17:57 as he directed a perfect feed from Gabe Bast past goaltender Joey Desrosiers, who is from Red Deer. Bobyk then beat Desrosiers on a perfect shot high to the glove side at 19:11.
“Once we got that third goal we were off to the races,” said Quinn, who believes the use of four lines is key to their success.
“We ran four lines and eventually we wore down their defence and we got the opportunities in the third period,” he said.
But to the second goal it was anyone’s game and goaltender Matt Zentner played a major role in keeping it deadlocked.
His biggest save came off Liam Gregor on a breakaway.
“That save was huge,” said Quinn. “He made another big save off a turnover, but that’s what you need from your goaltender. He needs to make the big save at the right times and it allowed us to get our feet under us and once we got going we were a good team.”
Zentner finished with 26 saves while his mates had 31 shots on Desrosiers.
The Rebels receive a bye in the first round of the playoffs and will start the semifinals in the “middle of next week”. So it was important to be at the top of their game heading into the playoffs.
“I’m glad we’re going into the playoffs on a strong note, but the real season starts now,” said Quinn, who was without defenceman Kaleb Denham. As a result he called up Riley Mathies from the 15-year-old IROC Chiefs.
“I’ve been happy with the kids we’ve called up from the 15-year-olds. It doesn’t matter who it is they’ve stepped up and Riley did a good job today and was able to contribute,” said Quinn.
l The Calgary Royals will also receive a first-round bye in the south along with the Edmonton Boston Pizza Athletics and St. Albert in the north.