Rebels 2 Tigers 1
MEDICINE HAT — There have been nights this season that Patrik Bartosak hasn’t resembled the Patrik Bartosak of last season.
That wasn’t the case Friday as the Red Deer Rebels netminder — and the reigning CHL goaltender of the year — stopped 37 shots in a 2-1 Western Hockey League over the Medicine Hat Tigers before 4,006 fans.
“That was probably the most solid game he’s had this year for us. There have been games he’s played well but tonight he was very good,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, whose club directed 23 shots at Tigers netminder Marek Langhamer.
While Bartosak was a major reason for the Rebels’ 13th win of the season, Sutter also liked other aspects of his team’s game.
“We worked hard, we competed. We made some mistakes but for the most part I thought we did a lot of good things,” said the Rebels bench boss. “We adjusted to some things we needed to adjust to throughout the night. I thought we handled some things pretty well and our goalie made the saves when we needed them, and he made some big saves.”
The Tigers opened the scoring midway through the first period as Curtis Valk potted his 13th goal of the season. But just under five minutes later, emergency call-up Scott Feser evened the count, setting the stage for Wyatt Johnson’s eventual winner at 11:51 of the second period.
Feser’s goal, assisted by Lukas Sutter, was his first of the season, including the 18 games he’s played in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. The Red Deer native, who appeared in 21 games with the Rebels last season and nine games in 2011-12, had five assists in 12 games with the Camrose Kodiaks this fall and has five helpers in six games with the Okotoks Oilers, who acquired him in a Nov. 8 trade.
“It was good to see Scotty back. We needed him back here, we’re short on forwards,” said Sutter, who is without injured wingers Matt Bellerive, Grayson Pawlenchuk and Christian Stockl.
Feser might have earned a longer stay with the Rebels and will almost certainly be with the club at Christmas and into the New Year.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen at Christmas time because we’re going to be without three players for sure,” said Sutter
He will lose Pawlenchuk, provided he’s healthy, and Adam Musil to Team Pacific for the World Under 17 Challenge, and Dominik Volek to the Czech Republic squad for the World Junior Championship.
In addition, Bellerive isn’t expected to return any time soon from a knee injury he suffered in last Saturday’s 5-1 home-ice win over the Prince George Cougars.
“We have to find some guys to play and Scotty has obviously played at this level and he came in tonight and got a big goal for us,” added Sutter.
The Rebels, who were zero-for-four on the power play while the Tigers were zero-for-three, conclude their two-game road trip tonight against the Swift Current Broncos.
“We know we’ll have to play better than we did tonight. We’ll need to have a strong compete level,” said Sutter. “We made some mistakes tonight and some of them were mistakes by young players, but it’s two points and we move on.”
The Rebels improved to 13-12-0-2 with the victory and are just a single point behind the Regina Pats and Brandon Wheat Kings, who sit seventh and eighth in the Eastern Conference. The Rebels, in fact, are just four points back of the fourth-place Calgary Hitmen.
Red Deer’s next home game is Wednesday against the Prince Albert Raiders.