Red Deer Rebel Hayden Fleury wheels out of the corner with Lethbridge Hurricane Ryley Lindgren caught on his heels during first period action at the Centrium in Red Deer Friday night.

Red Deer Rebel Hayden Fleury wheels out of the corner with Lethbridge Hurricane Ryley Lindgren caught on his heels during first period action at the Centrium in Red Deer Friday night.

Turnovers cost Rebels against Hurricanes

There was a time, and to the players and coaching staff it must seem like long ago, that the Red Deer Rebels were trending in the right direction.

Hurricanes 2 Rebels 1

There was a time, and to the players and coaching staff it must seem like long ago, that the Red Deer Rebels were trending in the right direction.

Way back when, the Rebels were headed north. But in recent weeks they’ve reversed direction.

Friday’s Western Hockey League game was a prime example, as the upstart Lethbridge Hurricanes handed the Rebels a 2-1 defeat before a recorded gathering of 4,992 at the Enmax Centrium.

The Rebels weren’t outplayed by any means, but a pair of first-period turnovers led to both Lethbridge goals and the hosts couldn’t find a way to come all the way back.

“I thought we played a really good first 10 minutes. We played with speed and drew some penalties,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “But our power play was kind of the difference in the first period, in a negative sense. We had three power plays and gave up a goal.”

The ‘Canes opened the scoring 16:25 into the contest when a Red Deer turnover led to a two-on-one break from inside the Rebels blueline and Jamal Watson’s 21st goal of the season.

Just over a minute later and with Red Deer operating on their third power play of the night, the puck was turned over at the Lethbridge blueline and Florian Baltram buried a rebound after Rebels netminder Ryan Toth stopped a shot by Watson.

“They (Hurricanes) had three quality chances in the first period,” said Sutter, referring also to a breakaway by Watson on which he fired the puck over the net. “(Brett) Cote, (Haydn) Fleury and (Brooks) Maxwell throw pucks away and two of those turnovers end up in our net.

“Our older players know better, they know they can’t be playing that way. It just happens that some of those older players are our best players.”

The Rebels carried the play through most of the middle frame but couldn’t get the puck past ‘Canes netminder and Red Deer product Jayden Sittler, who stopped all 13 shots he faced in the frame, finished with 26 saves and was named second star of the game.

“I was telling the kids that was probably the best second period we’ve played in the last two and half to three weeks, just how we controlled the play,” said Sutter.

Former Rebels defenceman Devan Faford nearly gave the ‘Canes a 3-0 lead in the first minute of the third period when he pounced on yet another giveaway at the Lethbridge blueline, broke in alone and rang a shot off the post.

The Rebels finally solved Sittler during a power play roughly four minutes later, as Colton Bobyk’s wrist shot from the point was deflected in by Presten Kopeck. But the hosts mustered only seven shots in the period and despite some late pressure, couldn’t find the equalizer.

“In the third period we never had the push we needed to have,” said Sutter. “We got one (goal) back and we needed to have more of a push to try and generate and create more, and yet we spent the first four minutes of the period in our zone.”

For the Hurricanes, who have gradually picked up steam since GM/head coach Peter Anholt replaced the former regime in December, the win was their fifth in their last six games.

“I think we’re getting some goaltending, that where it all starts with us,” said Anholt, who gave 16-year-old phenom stopper Stuart Skinner the night off and promptly got a standout performance from Sittler.

“Most nights we’re getting outshot, although we didn’t give up as many shots tonight as we have been, so maybe we’re making some strides forward in that regard. The kids play hard and they’ve done what we’ve asked them to do, and that gives us a chance.”

With Sittler on board — he was acquired from the Victoria Royals in January — the ‘Canes don’t have to rely on Skinner on a nightly basis.

“He’s been a great pick-up,” said Anholt. “The one things about Sitts is he competes so hard so the team plays hard in front of him because of that. He’s just been a pleasure, a good partner for Stuey. He gives him some confidence and a security blanket, you might say.”

The Rebels will attempt to snap a three-game losing streak when they host the Prince George Cougars tonight. The Cougars upset the host Medicine Hat Tigers 4-2 Friday.

“We’re going through a situation right now where we’ve experiencing a bit of adversity, but if we handle it the right way and everyone stays focused we’ll get ourselves out of it and we’ll be a better team for it,” said Sutter. “But we need everybody going. Your best players have to be your best players and in reality that wasn’t the case tonight.

“We have to find a way to get these guys back to where they were three to four weeks ago and get them dialed in. Their hearts are in the right place, they’re great kids, but they’re going through a bit of adversity right now and we have to help them through that.”

• Toth made 17 saves while suffering his 14th regulation-time loss of the season . . . As well as Sittler played, he also had his posts on his side as former ‘Cane Riley Sheen struck iron in each of the first and third periods . . . On a positive note, the Rebels didn’t lose any ground in the Central Division standings. Besides Medicine Hat’s loss, the Calgary Hitmen, who were riding a nine-game winning streak, were shocked 4-2 by the visiting Saskatoon Blades and the Moose Jaw Warriors downed the Kootenay Ice 5-2 at Cranbrook.

gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Marcus Golczyk, with Taco Monster, hands food to a customer during Food Truck Drive and Dash in the Westerner Park parking lot in Red Deer Friday afternoon. The drive-thru event will run every Thursday from 4-7 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through June. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff
Food Truck Fridays, Food Truck Drive and Dash return in Red Deer

Red Deerians are able to take in a drive-thru food truck experience… Continue reading

Don and Gloria Moore, of Red Deer, are set to celebrate their 70th anniversary later this month. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

Red Deer couple Don and Gloria Moore are set to celebrate their… Continue reading

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault chairs a premiers virtual news conference as premiers John Horgan, B.C., Jason Kenney, Alberta, and Scott Moe, Saskatchewan, are seen onscreen, Thursday, March 4, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Several provinces bring in new restrictions as high COVID-19 case numbers persist

Several provinces are gearing up to tighten public health measures once again… Continue reading

Members of the RCAF take part in a Royal Canadian Air Force change of command ceremony in Ottawa on Friday, May 4, 2018. The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open its doors to military pilots from other countries as it seeks to address a longstanding shortage of experienced aviators. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
RCAF turns to foreign pilots to help with shortage as commercial aviators stay away

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open… Continue reading

An arrivals and departures information screen is seen at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Halifax on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. The chief executive of Atlantic Canada's largest airport is hoping for COVID-19 testing for arriving passengers "sooner rather than later," as an added measure to combat the province's third wave of the virus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Halifax airport CEO hopes for more on-site COVID testing ‘sooner rather than later’

HALIFAX — The chief executive of Atlantic Canada’s largest airport is hoping… Continue reading

Shoppers wear mask as they shop at a nursery & garden shop on Mother's Day weekend during COVID-19 pandemic in Wilmette, Ill., Saturday, May 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Tearful reunions mark second Mother’s Day under pandemic

Last Mother’s Day, they celebrated with bacon and eggs over FaceTime. This… Continue reading

Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet, standing, watches the game during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild won 5-2. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
Tocchet won’t return as coach of Coyotes after 4 seasons

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes and coach Rick Tocchet have mutually… Continue reading

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella shouts at an official after a fight between Columbus Blue Jackets' s Gavin Bayreuther and Florida Panthers' Sam Bennett during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, April 19, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Tortorella out after 6 years as Columbus Blue Jackets coach

COLUMBUS, Ohio — John Tortorella is out as coach of the Columbus… Continue reading

A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada's vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel's approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images
Parks Canada captive caribou breeding proposal gets OK from scientific review panel

JASPER, Alta. — A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada’s vanishing… Continue reading

The smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alta., are seen in a May 16, 2011, file photo. The wildfire that is devastating large swaths of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray comes just five years after another blaze destroyed 400 buildings and left 2,000 people homeless in Slave Lake, Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ian Jackson
Ten years later: Five things to know about the Slave Lake wildfire

A wildfire burned about one-third of Slave Lake in northern Alberta in… Continue reading

Most Read