Rebels fall to 0-4 in the preseason
INNISFAIL — Outside of his goaltender’s performance, there simply wasn’t much for Red Deer Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin to be excited about on Saturday.
His comments following a 1-0 WHL exhibition loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes verified that fact.
“We’ve got to be a lot better in all areas,” said Wallin, who watched his squad fall to 0-4 in the preseason. “We didn’t get enough pucks to the net or enough traffic to the net for second (scoring) opportunities.
“Plus, we gave up too many opportunities in our own end of the rink just off the soft coverage and missed assignments. And we didn’t move the puck well enough. There were too many turnovers. The defence struggled to get the puck to the forwards and the forwards turned a lot of pucks over in the neutral zone. Overall, it was a sloppy game.”
It was also a game that was there for either team, and would have featured a half dozen more goals if not for the excellence of both netminders.
Rebels stopper Patrik Bartosak, appearing in his first preseason contest and his first in a Red Deer jersey since December of last year, made 37 saves. Lethbridge goaltender Ty Rimmer, while not as busy, stopped 26 shots.
“No question (Bartosak) made some quality saves,” said Wallin, in reference to the Rebels best player on Saturday. “He made some quality saves. We gave up some quality opportunities and he held us in there.”
Bartosak would have pitched a regulation-time shutout if not for a bad break while the Hurricanes were operating with a two-man advantage early in the third period. A Hurricanes shot deflected off the stick of Rebels defenceman Mathew Dumba and went directly to Russ Maxwell, who quickly beat Bartosak to the glove side.
After being outshot 29-18 through the first two periods, the Rebels carried the play in the final frame after giving up the early goal, but their momentum stalled when they were assessed two more back-to-back penalties.
“That’s another thing, we took some unnecessary penalties and they hurt us,” said Wallin. “We gave up that five-on three goal early and then got ourselves down five-on-three later in the period when we were down a goal. You just can’t do that to yourself.”
While Rimmer came up big for the Hurricanes — robbing Charles Inglis twice in the process — Bartosak had to be the game’s first star.
“It was my first game after a long time,” said Bartosak. “I try to get ready as much as I can. I try to get ready as if it was a game in the regular season. But still, we didn’t win.”
But at least he was busy, which helped him get into the swing of the contest and will be a benefit moving forward.
“I think that helps me a lot. I make lots of saves so I can pick up some confidence,” said the 19-year-old native of Ostrava, Czech Republic, whose rookie WHL season was halted by a severe shoulder injury that required surgery and a lengthy recovery period.
Bartosak was ready to strap on the pads during the summer and suited up for the Czech under-20 team during a series in Sweden.
“I played a few games for natjonal team in summer so I knew how I’m going to feel on the ice,” he said. “Like I said, I try to get ready as much as I can. It is nice to be back on the ice and to have the Rebels jersey back on feel great. But still, the loss hurts.”
• The Rebels were minus the services of six regulars on Saturday — defencemen Jan Bittner and Kayle Doetzel and forwards Adam Kambeitz, Turner Elson, Brooks Maxwell and Cory Millette . . . Defenceman Kevin Pochuk, 17, and 16-year-old goalie Grant Naherniak were reassigned following the contest, leaving the Rebels with a 26-man roster . . . Naherniak will rejoin the midget AAA Moose Jaw Generals and Pochuk will play at the junior A level with Virden of the MJHL. Pochuk was expected to make the Rebels this season but Wallin said he wasn’t yet up to the challenge. “We just felt that he’s not quite ready to play here, that the pace of the game is a little too quick for him,” said the Rebels bench boss. “He wasn’t going to be in our top six this year and with his age he needs to be playing regularly. He might be (in Virden) for a month, for three months or for the entire season . . . it will depend on the circumstances.” Forward Earl Webb, a 16-year-old from Calgary, was reassigned following Friday’s 4-2 loss to the Calgary Hitmen . . . The Rebels will conclude their exhibition schedule this weekend, facing the Edmonton Oil Kings on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Lacombe and tangling with the Medicine Hat Tigers 24 hours later at Stettler.