Rebels shutout Oil Kings to kickstart second half

In the same time it takes turkey to put you to sleep after Christmas dinner, the Red Deer Rebel buried the Edmonton Oil Kings.

With their return to WHL play following their 10-day holiday break, the Rebels scored two shorthanded goals only 12 seconds apart in the second period to lock up a 3-0 win at home. Brandon Hagel put the cherry on top with a third-period goal and Riley Lamb secured his third shutout of the season.

“Our team game was really good,” Rebels GM and head coach Brent Sutter said.

“Our intelligence with the puck, we didn’t gave up many odd man rushes, we were good along the boards. We spent time in the offensive zone. We took pride in playing the game the way you need to on the other side of the puck, defending the right way too. Probably one of our more solid games we’ve had in a while.”

After dominating the first period and having nothing to show for it, Red Deer turned the juice up in the second on the penalty kill when Jeff de Wit found Evan Polei for his 16th goal of the year.

On the ensuing faceoff, Hagel forced a turnover in the corner before he quickly found Matthew Campese in the slot, who whistled a shot past the blocker of Oil Kings goalie Patrick Dea, the same place Polei beat him seconds before. It was Campese’s first goal as a Rebel.

The two markers were only the fifth and six shorthanded goals for the Rebels, and for a penalty kill that ranks 14th in the WHL it provided a much needed jump start.

“I thought our penalty kill was really good today, we weren’t cheating for offence, it just came to us. We were just doing the right things and that’s how it happened,” Hagel said, who was named the second star for his one-goal, one assist performance.

The Rebels also went over 40 shots for the first time since Nov. 25 and just the fifth time this season. Sutter said that was a point of emphasis for his squad coming out of the break, especially on the man advantage.

“Our power play was good, we had lots of shots. We talked about creating more off the shot. I thought we did a good job,” Sutter said.

For Lamb, the win was his first since Lasse Petersen took over the net on Nov. 30. His last win came on Nov. 22, which was also a shutout against Calgary.

“It always feels good getting the win, but the guys played well in front of me. Helps the confidence a lot,” Lamb said.

The win pushed the Rebels to just one point shy of the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the Central Division and extended their lead over the Oil Kings for third to four points.

They are back in action Wednesday night in Edmonton, before welcoming Kootenay to the Centruim on Dec. 30.

byron.hackett@bprda.wpengine.com

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