The Red Deer Rebels played like a team with nothing at stake and the Edmonton Oil Kings took advantage with a 4-1 win at the Centrium in WHL action Saturday night.
After Rebels forward Lane Zablocki scored just 1:27 into the game, the Rebels couldn’t convert on a bevy of chances but never really fully pressured Edmonton. The Oil Kings on the other hand were able to capitalize on a limited number of chances.
“Not very good. Probably our worst game in a month. To be quite honest we were brutal,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said simply.
“After the first two minutes we were terrible. Their goalie was better than ours. Our defence was terrible. Our centre icemen were terrible, our right wingers were terrible tonight and our left wingers were terrible tonight. So when everybody plays their positions and they’re all that bad that’s the result you get.”
The loss snapped a four-game win streak for the Rebels and was just the second time in the last 12 games they failed to record at least a point.
Oil Kings goalie Josh Dechaine was named first star with a 33-save performance and only his third victory of the season.
Edmonton collected just their fifth win in their last 33 games.
After Zablocki’s 28th of the year, the Oil Kings quickly tied the game at one on the first career goal by forward Brian Harris.
The Oil Kings grabbed a 2-1 lead midway through the opening frame on Anatolii Elizarov’s seventh of the season and the visitors didn’t look back.
Riley Stadel and Graham Millar scored the final two goals for Edmonton.
Sutter said after a week of emphasizing good habits and consistency heading into playoffs, the Rebels showed neither on Saturday.
“We’ve been stressing our habits since Wednesday, making sure we prepare right for this weekend. I don’t know if coming to the rink tonight some guys thought they might not be playing,” Sutter said.
“I don’t know, but habits are everything. That’s why with this group and they’ve shown it time and time again when they get away from it and drop their guard, they don’t work and don’t bring any emotion, they don’t pay a price to succeed and have success, they get what they get.”
The Rebels failed to convert on five power play opportunities and Lasse Petersen made 22 saves.
Sutter acknowledged standings-wise there might not be a lot to play for, there is still a pride factor that he expects from the group.
“Maybe the game doesn’t zippo in standings but it means everything to what we are as a hockey team,” he said.
“This team cannot let it get away from them. Because when it does, it takes a month to get it back.”
The Rebels also handed out their annual awards before their final regular season home game on Saturday:
Underrated Player: Jared Freadrich and Carson Sass
Top Defenceman: Alex Alexeyev
Team MVP: Adam Musil
Evan Polei, Humanitarian Award and Player’s Award
Michael Spacek was Booster Juice Three Star Award winner and leading scorer for 2016/2017
Rebels long time Eqiupment Manager Dave “Radar” Horning was also given the WHL Milestone Award.