Rebels 'a step behind' in loss
CALGARY — The Red Deer Rebels looked like they were closing out a lengthy road trip on Saturday night at the Saddledome.
The Rebels actually concluded a six-games-in-eight-nights jaunt last Tuesday and followed up with a 2-1 win over Medicine Hat on Friday at the Centrium. Perhaps the busy schedule caught up to the Rebels in Calgary, where they were outshot 37-19 in a 4-2 Western Hockey League loss to the Hitmen.
“It sure looked that way. We were second to pucks and just seemed to be a step behind all night,” said Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin.
Still, the Rebels were alive and well after 40 minutes, thanks to second-period goals from Tyson Ness — short-handed — and Cory Millette just over two minutes apart to move ahead 2-1.
“We gave ourselves a chance with those two goals. That seemed to give us a bit of life,” said Wallin.
The Hitmen, however, pulled even before the middle frame ended when captain Cody Sylvester scored with Rebels defenceman Jan Bittner serving a holding infraction.
The tying tally didn’t sit well with Wallin.
“That was kind of a tough goal. We felt there should have been a penalty on the play,” said the Rebels bench boss. “(Mathew) Dumba was skating backwards through the neutral zone and was interfered with which allowed them into the zone and they scored off the rush.
“We were upset on the play. It was a tough goal to give up given the situation, but ultimately we went into the third period all square.”
Sylvester scored the winning goal midway through the final frame.
“We gave up a tough goal on a four-on-four. It was just missed coverage at our net front and ended up being the difference,” said Wallin.
Brooks Macek added an empty-net goal for Calgary in the final minute. Hitmen rookie Jake Virtanen notched his second of the season in the opening stanza.
Bolton Pouliot made 33 saves in the Rebels net, while rookie Mack Shields stopped 17 shots for the Hitmen.
“Bolton was solid. He’s been calm and composed all season and has given us a chance to win every night,” said Wallin.
Pouliot remains as the Rebels’ starter for now with Patrik Bartosak at least temporarily suspended by the team for disciplinary reasons. Rebels general manager Brent Sutter is expected to reassess the situation today.
The Rebels will host the Kamloops Blazers on Tuesday, with the puck dropping at 7 p.m.
The Kootenay Ice will visit the Centrium on Friday for a 7:30 p.m. match and the Rebels will be in Cranbrook on Sunday for the second half of the home-and-home set.