Midget Rebels rebound to take series lead
It didn’t take long for the Red Deer Optimist Rebels Chiefs to get back on track.
Less than 48 hours after turning in a so-so performance in a 2-1 double overtime loss to the UFA Bisons in Strathmore Thursday, the Rebels were going full speed in recording a 7-2 victory over the Bisons and taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five Alberta Midget Hockey League South Division semifinal series at the Arena Sunday afternoon.
“I was happy with the work ethic and intensity, especially after the first period,” said Rebels head coach Doug Quinn. “We scored some goals in the first period, but I thought we were a little loose defensively and (Matt) Zentner made several good saves to keep it 3-0. I thought we did a better job in the second and I was really happy with the third period.”
The teams exchanged seven shots a piece in the opening frame, but Rory Davidson, Trey DeGraaf and 14-year-old bantam call up Tyler Steenbergen put the Rebels up 3-0. All three goals came on four shots against Bisons starting netminder Richard Palmer. He was then replaced by Grayson Sharpe who went the rest of the way.
The Rebels held a 15-7 edge in shots in the middle stanza and goals by Jody Sick and Davidson made it 5-0 before Markson Bechtold finally beat Zentner at 19:39.
Sick and Davidson connected once more in the third period before Connor Tudor scored on a two-man advantage at 13:41. Overall the Rebels held a 19-3 edge in shots in the final frame.
“It was one of those things. We took a couple bad penalties in retaliation, but I was happy with the overall effort as we were better prepared and more focused (than on Thursday),” said Quinn, who liked what he saw from Davidson.
“Rory had a great game. His speed is as good as anyone’s in the league and that was a great goal to get us started.”
Davidson blew down the left side, around the Bisons defence and tucked the puck under Palmer to open the scoring at 1:42 of the first period.
“I’ve been getting a lot of ice time and working on little things like shooting the puck and coming off the wall,” said Davidson.
“The more I can help it makes a difference for the team.”
Davidson likes the way the Rebels move the puck, which has been a major factor in their increase in offence during the second half of the season.
“We have a very quick team that moves the puck well, which opens up space. It gives us a lot more time and good things happen.”
“The second half of the season we focused on puck movement and we do a good job of sharing the puck off the rush,” he said. “It’s nice to see the kids rewarded for good short passes and ultimately get some goals . . . that’s what it’s all about.”
Davidson wasn’t one to believe the loss Thursday was good for the team.
“Definitely not,” he said. “We wanted to wrap this up today. But we also knew they’re a good team and would come at us hard. It’s one of those things that if you don’t come to play any team can beat you. So we had to step up today.”
The 17-year-old Davidson will move on from midget next season, but that’s not something he’s not looking at for now.
“I haven’t a clue where I’ll be. I hope to play junior A and get a scholarship, but right now I’m focused on this team, right now.”
l The Rebels finished with 31 shots on goal while Zentner faced 17 . . . Red Deer took three of eight minor penalties . . . The fourth game in the series goes Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Strathmore with the fifth game, if necessary, Friday at 8 p.m. at the Arena.