Rebels hang on for win over Blades
SASKATOON — The Red Deer Rebels moved from quicksand in the first period to the race track for the second and third frames and the change of pace paid off on Wednesday evening at the Credit Union Centre.
In the end, the Rebels came away with their first regulation-time win of the season, downing the Saskatoon Blades 5-3 in a Western Hockey League contest viewed by 4,423 fans.
“We had a slow start in the first. We played last night and they didn’t and they tried to take advantage of that like we knew they would,” said Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin. “We didn’t do ourselves any favours, we weren’t moving our feet. We kind of stood around and watched them play through the first period, but we regrouped after the first and in the second and third we really upped our level and got going.
“From there we carried the play. We did a lot of good things offensively and took care of the defensive details.”
The Blades led 1-0 after one period on a power play goal by Darren Dietz, but the Rebels struck back with second-period markers from defencemen Mathew Dumba — on a great individual effort — and Brandon Underwood.
From there, Joel Hamilton potted a power-play goal at 1:19 of the third period for a 3-1 Red Deer lead and Cory Millette followed with another man-advantage tally eight minutes later.
But the Blades countered with a goal from Nick Zajac a mere 10 seconds later and the hosts made it interesting when Dalton Throwers’s point shot deflected off the chin of Rebels defenceman Kayle Doetzel and past netminder Patrik Bartosak at 17:29.
“We gave up a goal off the rush and then a tough goal that went off Doetzel’s face. He’s going to need some dental work,” said Wallin. “But we buckled down and did a good job of staying with it and didn’t lose our composure.”
With the outcome still in doubt and Blades netminder Andrey Makarov on the bench in favour of an extra attacker, Rebels veteran forward Tyson Ness potted an empty net goal at 19:24 to basically seal the deal.
“We were able to grind it out and get the empty-netter. It was a real good effort tonight and a good boost of confidence for our guys,” said Wallin.
The Rebels’ special teams were front and centre, going two-for-eight on the power play and holding the Blades to a single man-advantage goal in seven opportunities.
“We had good puck movement on the power play and our penalty killers did a real good job,” said Wallin. “Of course, your goaltender has to be your best penalty killer and Patty was very good tonight.”
Bartosak turned aside 32 shots, while Makarov made 24 saves.
The Rebels continue their six-game jaunt through the East Division on Friday against the Regina Pats. Wallin has been encouraged by his club’s improved offensive play in the last three games and will be looking for more of the same during the remainder of the trip which ends next Tuesday and includes stops in Brandon, Moose Jaw and Swift Current.
“We were standing around in the first period tonight, then we just got going again,” he said. “We started moving our feet and working and when we’re doing that we’re fine. We won battles and generated a lot of offence. It starts with working and competing.”