Rebels sweep road trip
Rebels 4 Pats 0
REGINA, Sask. — When Red Deer Rebels 20-year-old netminder Patrik Bartosak was pulled during a 5-1 loss to the Calgary Hitmen on Jan, 17, no one was overly concerned.
From head coach/GM Brent Sutter on down they expected the defending Canadian Hockey League goaltender of the year to bounce back.
He did exactly that the next night in a 5-2 win over Lethbridge and then was even better as the Rebels hit the road this past week.
He made 38 saves in a 5-0 win over the Prince Albert Raiders Wednesday, stopped 42 shots in a 3-2 win over the Saskatoon Blades Friday, then put a lid on the three games in four day stretch by making 41 saves as the Rebels downed the Regina Pats 4-0 Saturday.
“He responded well since that game against Calgary,” said Sutter.
“Those things happen once in a while and you need to regroup and refocus and he did just that.
“Patty has been sharp since Christmas, playing his best hockey of the year for us. He’s obviously one of our most important players.”
Sutter knows to have success any team needs good goaltending and he feels with Bartosak and backup Taz Burman they have that.
“Taz is a good 16-year-old goaltender, who does a good job when we need him,” he said. ‘That game against Calgary he got a chance to come in off the bench and see some action, which was good for everyone.”
Bartosak is also one of the Rebels three overage players and needs to provide that leadership.
“You need your veteran players to step up and be good players for you,” continued Sutter. “You need that level of play from them. We’ve been getting that and the younger kids have been developing all season.”
One of the younger players to step up Saturday was Scott Feser, who scored twice to go with singles from Aspen Sterzer and Preston Kopeck.
“Scott has settled in,” said Sutter. “That’s one of the reasons why we moved out some players to give us room for the younger players such as Feser, (Grayson) Pawlenchuk, (Adam) Musil, (Cole) Chorney, (Meyer) Nell and (Evan) Polei.
“The kids get more playing time and playing in key situations they weren’t getting before.”
While Bartosak was seeing his share of rubber, Sutter wasn’t upset with his team’s play.
“Five-on-five we played real well,” he said. “And our penalty kill was good, We killed off eight penalties, which is too many, something we need to continue to correct, but that’s where shot differential came in.”
The Rebels finished with 25 shots on a pair of Regina netminders. Dawson MacAuley started and allowed all four goals on 19 shots over 44 minutes and 38 seconds. Daniel Wapple came on and made six saves.
The win was another important one for the Rebels as they remain in a tie for seventh place in the Eastern Conference with the Kootenay Ice, just one point back of the Pats and with two games in hand.
“Six (points) out of six was big for us and this win came against a team that was coming off a big win,” said Sutter.
The Pats defeated Prince George 8-0 at home Friday.
“If you want to be a playoff team these are the types of games you have to be mentally tough for 60 minutes,” Pats head coach Malcolm Cameron told the Regina Leader-Post. “I can’t say anybody in that locker room cheated us with their effort, but their focus was another story.”
Feser opened the scoring at 10:24 of the first period with the final three Red Deer goals coming within a 3:46 period in the middle stanza. Sterzer connected at 15:29, Kopeck at 17:49 and Feser at 19:15.
• Conner Bleackley added a pair of assists . . . The Rebels return home Wednesday at 7 p.m. against the Brandon Wheat Kings.