Oil Kings 6 Rebels 1
Their record of late may not show it, but there are things creeping into the Red Deer Rebels game that isn’t sitting well with general manager/head coach Brent Sutter.
Many of those bad habits were evident as the Rebels ran into a determined Edmonton Oil Kings squad, who rolled to 6-1 Western Hockey League victory over the home squad before 6,609 fans at the Centrium Friday.
“There are bad habits creeping into our game that have to be corrected,” said Sutter. “First of all the players are the ones putting the skates on and have to correct it and secondly they will be accountable as long as I’m with this team.”
The Rebels seemed a step behind from the drop of the puck and it wasn’t until they were down 3-0 that they seemed to find their legs.
The Oil Kings, who fell behind the Rebels 3-0 Thursday before losing 5-3 in Edmonton, weren’t about to let the game get away.
“We weren’t happy with our start Thursday,” said Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal. “We did manage to battle back to 4-3 by they got a weak goal. Tonight LB (goaltender Laurent Brossoit) was solid from the get-go and we played well five-on-five. And when there was a break down Brossoit was there.:”
The Rebels did have their chances, especially in the middle stanza when Tyson Ness hit the post and Brossoit got a toe on an in-close chance by Rhyse Dieno.
But Sutter didn’t see much positive out of the game except for the play of Joel Hamilton, who scored the Rebels lone goal while shorthanded nine seconds into the third period.
‘We were awful, there’s no other way to explain it,” Sutter said. “It doesn’t matter what level you play at if your best players are not your best players you have no chance.
“Outside of Joel Hamilton I didn’t see much from any of our top three lines.”
Sutter felt the team was passive early on, losing the majority of the battles along the boards.
“It was very noticeable and unacceptable,” he said. “That’s not the way this team can play. Two of the last three games at home we haven’t been good. Despite a 12-3-1 record in our last 16 games the last three or four some of the inconsistencies that were evident early in the season have been noticeable again. Our leaders have to be accountable.”
Stephane Legault opened the scoring for the Oil Kings at 2:02 of the first period, slipping home a rebound into an open net. TJ Foster made it 2-0 on a perfect shot high over Red Deer netminder Bolton Pouliot’s shoulder at 6:54.
The Oil Kings, who were zero-for-six on the power play Thursday, converted with the man advantage at 14:23 when Michael St. Croix ripped home a quick shot from the slot.
Despite several good opportunities in the middle stanza Henrik Samuelsson scored the lone goal for Edmonton on a breakaway at 14:31.
After Hamilton gave the Rebels some hope early in the third period Legault killed that with a shorthanded breakaway goal at 13:39 after taking the puck from Matt Dumba at the Edmonton line.
Klarc Wilson completed the scoring at 16:45 on a goal that appeared to come after goalie interference.
The Oil Kings finished with 42 shots on Pouliot while the Rebels had 30 on Brossoit.
The win gave the Oil Kings 53 points on the season and moved them three ahead of the Calgary Hitmen, who lost 2-1 to Lethbridge. Red Deer is six points back of the Oil Kings and only six ahead of Lethbridge.
Laxdal, who is a former Red Deer Rustler, was willing to take the split in the home-and-home games with Red Deer.
“We needed to respond after last night (Thursday). We gave up two points but came right back to get them tonight, so it’s a wash in the standings for us.”
The Rebels won’t have much time to regroup as they host the Brandon Wheat Kings Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Centrium. The Wheat Kings, who had Mike Ferland back in their lineup, lost 4-3 to Moose Jaw.
The Rebels were without defenceman Brady Gaudet, who was injured when hit from behind in Edmonton. They were also missing forward Conner Bleackley and rearguard Haydn Fleury, who are at the World U17 Championship. The Oil Kings are also missing several players including defencemen Griffin Reinhart and David Musil.