Broncos 2 Rebels 1
SWIFT CURRENT — Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin was almost speechless following his club’s 11th consecutive Western Hockey League defeat Wednesday.
“I don’t know what to say, I really don’t,” said Wallin after a 2-1 loss to the Swift Current Broncos before 1,899 fans at the Credit Union i-plex. “We had a good start, a good first period.”
The Rebels opened the scoring when Turner Elson, just back from serving a six-game suspension, connected eight minutes into the contest. However, Red Deer native and Broncos defenceman Graeme Craig evened the count three minutes later on a point shot that beat a screened Rebels netminder Patrik Bartosak.
Then came the decisive goal — the eventual game-winner by Brad Hoban just 13 seconds into the middle frame.
“At the start of the second period we have our top line and two of our top defencemen on the ice and turn the puck over behind the net and bang-bang it’s in the back of our net,” Wallin groaned. “That was the difference in the game.”
The Rebels tried to battle back but spent a large portion of the second period in the penalty box.
“We hurt ourselves with some penalties in the second period and yet we did a great job of killing them off,” said Wallin. “We killed a four-on-three, a five-on-three, and didn’t give up many (scoring) opportunities. We got some momentum off of that but we couldn’t put the puck in the back of the net.”
To make matters worse, Bartosak suffered an upper-body injury late in the second period after stopping 24 of 26 shots and was replaced by Bolton Pouliot, who blocked all six shots he faced the rest of the way.
“Bolton made a couple of good saves in the third period, which was good to see,” said Wallin.
The Broncos held a 32-28 edge in shots and got a 27-save performance from Jon Groenheyde, the game’s first star.
The Rebels were set to arrive back in Red Deer early this morning and Bartosak will be examined by a doctor today.
Meanwhile, the general mood of the team is anything but upbeat. The Rebels haven’t tasted victory since Nov. 12.
“Everybody is hurting right now, there’s no question about it,” said Wallin, whose team is still without the services of injured forwards Adam Kambeitz, Josh Cowen and Daulton Siwak and defenceman Aaron Borejko.
“There’s always two choices — you can dig in and keep forging ahead or you can feel sorry for yourself. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We just have to keep plugging away, keep working, keep picking ourselves back up and continue to forge ahead.”
The Rebels host the Brandon Wheat Kings Friday at 7:30 p.m. and entertain the Prince Albert Raiders Sunday at 6 p.m.