Rebels 5 Hurricanes 0
INNISFAIL — The Red Deer Rebels aren’t wasting any time developing good habits.
“I thought overall it was a pretty good game for the limited amount of time we’ve had to practise,” Rebels general manager/head coach Jesse Wallin said Friday, just minutes after his charges had blown past the Lethbridge Hurricanes 5-0 in a Western Hockey League preseason outing at the Innisfail Arena.
“The structure was pretty good, the guys have picked up on things. We moved the puck pretty well and I liked our discipline tonight,” Wallin continued. “The game got a little bit chippy at times, but we maintained our discipline and kept our cool. Those are all good signs.”
For the most part, the Rebels have maintained their poise while winning all three of their preseason contests to date.
“Yet I thought we’ve stuck up for one another when we’ve needed to,” said Wallin. “It’s nice to see that at this time of the year and part of the identity we want to have is being a disciplined hockey team. You need that to have success and the guys did a real good job of that tonight.”
The Rebels dressed nine veterans while the Hurricanes had four returnees in their lineup. The extra experience showed in a big way, especially early as veterans Locke Muller and Colten Mayor staked the Rebels to a 2-0 lead after an opening period in which Red Deer held a 15-6 advantage in shots.
Muller scored just 1:43 into the contest and Mayor took a feed from Trace Elson and beat Hurricanes netminder — and Innisfail native — Tanner Kovacs with a quick release from the low slot 10 minutes later.
Daulton Siwak upped the count to 3-0 with a short-handed marker 34 seconds into the middle frame as his attempted pass to an open wing deflected off a Lethbridge stick and past Kovacs.
The Rebels put the wraps on the one-sided win with third-period markers from rookie hopefuls Brooks Maxwell and Elson. Maxwell created a turnover inside the Lethbridge zone and beat goalie Jonny Hogue at 1:20 and Elson, following a pass from Scott Feser, cut through the slot and roofed a backhand at 4:09. Maxwell and Elson continued to boost their chances of cracking the regular-season lineup, as did the likes of forward Josh Hamilton and rookie defenders Kayle Doetzel and Stephen Hak.
“I thought a lot of the younger guys played well tonight and they are all making it tough as far as making decisions, which as a coach is what you want,” said Wallin.
If there was a negative aspect to the Rebels’ performance, it was their inability to score while enjoying 10 power-play opportunities. Wallin downplayed that shortcoming.
“That’s not a priority right now. You’re trying to get other things in order,” said the Rebels bench boss. “We don’t have set (power play) units at this time, we just haven’t spent any time on it.
“Having said that, we had a few scoring chances on the power play. We moved the puck well, we just didn’t capitalize.”
Dawson Guhle, who got the starting assignment, and Patrik Bartosak shared the shutout with seven and eight saves respectively as the Rebels outshot their opponents 37-15. For the ‘Canes, Kovacs stopped 19 of 22 shots and Hogue blocked 13 of 15.
Lethbridge fired blanks during the six power plays they were afforded.
The Rebels are in Calgary tonight to face the Hitmen at 7 p.m. at the Flames Community Arenas.