Rebels 5 Athletics 0
Red Deer Optimist Rebels Chiefs head coach Doug Quinn hesitated a little before commenting on his team’s effort in their opening game of the Alberta Midget Hockey League final against the Edmonton Southside Athletics.
“I was happy with the win,” he did say. “I thought we were a little slow to start and at times I thought we weren’t reacting to the puck. They play a different style than what we saw in the first two series. They use a lot of stretch plays, plus we didn’t get our forechecking going early.”
But with that said the Rebels did what they had to to pull out a 5-0 victory over the Athletics in the opening game of the best-of-five series.
The Rebels also scored twice before the game was 10 minutes old, which seemed to get them going.
“We did get those early goals and Matt (Zentner) made some saves when we needed them. We do need to work on some things to get ready for Sunday’s game (7:45 p.m. in Edmonton).”
Chris Gerrie opened the scoring for the Rebels at 6:53 on the power play as he grabbed a loose puck in the high slot and beat Edmonton netminder Jordan Papirny with a wrist shot between the legs. Jacob Schofield made it 2-0 at 9:06 as he took a feed from Jody Sick after some strong forechecking and gave Papirny no chance on a one-timer from the slot.
Schofield gave the Rebels some more breathing room when he took a feed at the edge of the cease and beat Papirny at 16:31 of the second period,. The second period ended on a tough note when Red Deer’s defenceman Cole Kapak was nailed along the boards deep in the Red Deer end by Edmonton’s Matthew Bruyer and went into convulsions. The play occurred with 1:24 remaining in the period. An ambulance was called with the remaining time played prior to the start of the third period.
“From what I was told he was hit on the shoulder and his head snapped into the boards,” said Quinn. “He was knocked out, but the positive is that he was awake and alert on the way out.”
Red Deer put the game away late in the third period when Trey DeGraaf scored into an empty net at 16:51 — the Athletics pulled their goal with over four minutes remaining— and Jordie Lawson scored at 17:37 with Papirny in goal.
While the Rebels controlled the majority of the opening game Quinn knows it won’t be easy. The Athletics have size and a lot of offensive talent.
“They have some good size on the back end and have some high end skilled players,” he said. “You can see the potential and the threat. There was a reason they were the top scoring team in the league.”
But overall the Rebels defence, and Zentner, who finished with 15 saves, did a good job of controlling the Edmonton forwards.
“I thought we did a good job with back pressure and for the most part our defence held the line, pushing them to the outside,” said Quinn. “As well as we went along our forecheck improved and when you’re playing in the other team’s zone it’s hard for them to score.”
As well the Rebels did a good job of taking away the stretch pass and created several offensive chances because of it.
“It’s a risk-reward play and if we’re in good position we can create turnovers and offensive opportunities and I thought that happened tonight.”
The Rebels finished with 22 shots on goal and took three of eight minor penalties.
The third game of the series goes Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Arena with the fourth game, if necessary Thursday in Edmonton. If a fifth game is needed it’s Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Arena.