Rebels 2 Warriors 1
MOOSE JAW — Make it a nifty nine.
The Red Deer Rebels racked up their ninth consecutive Western Hockey League win on Friday, getting a last-minute goal from Matt Bellerive in a 2-1 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors before 3,879 fans at Mosaic Place.
Bellerive notched his sixth goal of the season with a mere 10 seconds remaining in the third period to maintain Brent Sutter’s perfect record since taking over from former head coach Jesse Wallin in mid-November.
None of that means anything to Sutter, who continues to gives his charges all of the credit.
“We came out a little flat-footed tonight,” said Sutter, whose squad was outshot 15-10 in the first period and gave up a breakaway goal to Justin Kirsch. “But we talked about staying with it and something good would come out of it.”
Sure enough, the Rebels rebounded in the middle frame and outshot their hosts 17-9, but Warriors netminder Daniel Wapple kept the visitors off the scoresheet.
“We had some great scoring opportunities but our guys never got frustrated,” said Sutter. “The puck wasn’t going in for us but we talked about being a mentally strong team and going after the win in the third period. It took 59 minutes and 50 seconds to win the game. We found a way.”
Tyson Ness potted the tying goal 4:42 into the final frame, banking the puck off the boards to get past Warriors defenceman Morgan Rielly and then beating Wapple with a high shot to the short side.
“Winning breeds confidence. You always have to believe in yourself and your teammates and feel you can win,” said Sutter.
“When you play a high-tempo game you can create a lot of quality scoring chances. The Red Deer Rebels have always been known for their strong defensive play, but the game has changed. The team that creates the more offensive chances is the team that pushes the play.”
Rebels netminder Patrik Bartosak made 25 saves, while Wapple turned aside 32 shots.
Selected as the three stars of the game were (1) Bartosak, (2) Wapple and (2) Bellerive.
The Rebels conclude their three-game road trip tonight against the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Red Deer has three home games next week – versus Calgary, Victoria and Kelowna on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.