Rebels 3 Blades 2
SASKATOON, Sask. — Red Deer Rebels head coach/GM Brent Sutter was more than willing to take the two points, but he was anything but happy following a 3-2 victory over the Saskatoon Blades in Western Hockey League action Friday.
“We found a way to win, but it wasn’t one of our better games,” he said. “We just weren’t as sharp as we need to be at this time of the year. That’s not the way we should be playing.
“Our team game has to be better.”
The Rebels once again got outstanding goaltending from Patrik Bartosak, who finished with 42 saves.
“He was no doubt our best player,” added Sutter. “He won this for us.”
Twice the Rebels fell behind. Former Rebel Cory Millette opened the scoring for the Blades at 4:03 of the first period with Brooks Maxwell evening the count at 17:16.
Cameron Hebig made it 2-1 for the home side at 11:43 of the middle stanza, but Rhyse Dieno connected on his 16th of the season to tie it at 16:11 and Evan Polei, who was traded to the Rebels by the Blades in the Millette deal, got the winner at 17:45.
“The motivation I guess is there because they didn’t really want me,” Polei told the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. “When I went to Red Deer, it was a new start for me. They told me I needed to earn my keep.”
The third period was scoreless thanks to Bartosak, who made 18 saves in the frame.
It was the second win in three days for the Rebels who opened the road trip with a 5-0 win in Prince Albert.
“The game in Prince Albert and the one tonight were like night and day,” said Sutter.
“We held our turnovers to a minimum in that game and battled hard. Tonight we didn’t win many battles and spent way too much time in our zone.”
Still he’ll take the two points, which moved the Rebels into a tie with the Kootenay Ice for seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
“There are times when you have to win ugly and tonight was one of those,” he said. “The two points are important at this time of the year, but we still can’t be dropping our guard.
“We came our flat tonight. I think there was a lack of respect and a lack of preparation.”
He hopes that’s not the case tonight as the Rebels travel to Regina to face the Pats, who defeated Prince George 8-0 Friday. The Pats are three points up on the Rebels, who have two games in hand.
l Red Deer finished with 41 shots on Troy Tromblay and took five of eight minor penalties . . . Rebels return home Wednesday with a 7 p.m. contest against Kamloops.