Rebels clinch third in central with win over Hitmen

The Red Deer Rebels look like a well-oiled machine at the perfect time of the year.

Rebels 5 Hitmen 1

The Red Deer Rebels look like a well-oiled machine at the perfect time of the year.

Wednesday night the Rebels beat the Calgary Hitmen 5-1 for their fourth win in a row and clinched third place in the Central Division with just two games remaining.

“We played hard. We competed. I liked our intensity. We played with some urgency,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said. “Obviously our power play was good tonight, we scored a couple big goals on that. We stayed with our game.”

With the victory, Red Deer locked up a playoff date with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in round one of the WHL playoffs.

“We obviously wanted that third spot and play Lethbridge and I thought it was a huge win for our team tonight, we responded very well,” Rebels alternate captain Brandon Hagel said.

Two of the Rebels top forwards have also found some long-lost love playing together as Hagel and Micheal Spacek were reunited in the past few weeks and kept the momentum rolling Wednesday.

“They’ve got some chemistry going between them. They see each other well,” Sutter said. “Probably the last two weeks, Hags has taken his game to a different level which has really helped. He’s more at the level I’d like to see him play at and his compete level, his battle level and the intensity and emotion he’s playing with.”

They combined for seven points on the night including two power play goals. Hagel scored the only goal of the first and added his second of the night on a nifty one-timer from Spacek.

The Buffalo Sabres draft pick has seven goals and 11 points in his past four games.

“I’m just keeping the game simple. I’m not trying to do too much one-on-one like I was before,” he said.

He finished with four points against the Hitmen and was the first star for the second night in a row.

Hagel returned the favour with a helper for his linemate midway through the second. Spacek wired a wrist shot past Hitmen goalie Cody Porter for his 30th goal of the year. The Pardubice native has 15 points in his past eight games.

Rebels goalie Riley Lamb was solid in net with 26 saves.

Dawson Martin added a nifty goal midway through the third period after he picked up his own rebound and deked Porter. Jordan Roy also scored for his third in the past two games.

Defenceman Jared Freadrich extended his point streak to five games with an assist and has nine during that time.

Rebels are back on the ice Saturday night when they welcome the Edmonton Oil Kings to the Centrium for the final home game of the regular season.

The first round playoff series starts against the Hurricanes starts Saturday, March 25, in Lethbridge.

Game two goes March 26 also in Lethbridge before turning to Red Deer on Wednesday, March 29. Game four is Thursday, March 30, in Red Deer.

byron.hackett@bprda.wpengine.com