Rebels downed in shootout
PRINCE ALBERT — This one went down to the last shot and unfortunately for the Red Deer Rebels the puck was in their net.
The Rebels opened a six-game WHL road trip on Tuesday with a 5-4 shootout loss to the Prince Albert Raiders before 2,308 fans at the Art Hauser Centre, a setback that was particularly disturbing to head coach Jesse Wallin, albeit not from a lack of effort.
On the contrary . . .
“Tonight was a real disappointing loss because I thought we played really well. It was our most compete game of the season in all areas,” said Wallin, whose squad dropped to 1-3-0-1. “We really competed hard and had an outstanding first period.”
Indeed, the Rebels outshot their hosts 15-7 through the opening 20 minutes and potted the lone goal, with Charles Inglis notching his fifth of the season and first of two on the night on the power play at 19:52.
But the Rebels never led again as Raiders captain Mark McNeill potted his first of two in the game — a man-advantage marker — at 3:54 of the second period and Anthony Bardaro gave the hosts a 2-1 advantage just over three minute later.
And when Dakota Conroy connected for the Raiders a mere 3:17 into the third period, the Rebels appeared to be in big trouble.
“But we dug in and (Cory) Millette scored a huge goal to get us back in and then we just pushed and pushed,” said Wallin.
Millette beat Raiders netminder Luke Siemens on a breakaway at 4:58 of the third and Rebels newcomer Matt Bellerive — acquired last week from the Vancouver Giants — scored on a fine individual play just over four minutes later.
McNeill notched his second of the night on a breakaway at 12:39, beating Rebels goaltender Bolton Pouliot through the five-hole, but Inglis potted his sixth of the season — a power-play tally — at 18:31, forcing a scoreless overtime by batting a waist-high puck past Siemens.
But Red Deer failed to connect in the shootout, with Inglis, Bellerive and Millette all firing blanks, while McNeill struck for the Raiders.
The Rebels outshot their hosts 36-35 overall and Wallin felt the better team came out on the short end.
“We were better tonight than we have been in all areas of our game,” he said. “We created a lot of offence and had a lot of scoring opportunities. And it was certainly the most complete defensive game we’ve played as well.
“Our penalty kill was very good and I thought we were good down low in our zone. Unfortunately we just made three mistakes that really cost us. We gave up two breakaways, one off a stick-to-stick turnover and another where our defenceman just lost his man (McNeill)) behind him. And their second goal again was due to a lost low coverage.
“Outside of that I thought we didn’t make a lot of mistakes. We played real hard and certainly played well enough to win. I thought we deserved a better fate tonight.”
Wallin didn’t fault Pouliot for any of the Raiders’ goals and also gave kudos to Inglis.
The Rebels are in Saskatoon tonight to face the Blades in the second game of a six-game jaunt through the East Division.