SPOKANE — Basically an afterthought through the first six weeks of the Western Hockey League season, netminder Taz Burman was the Red Deer Rebels’ man of the hour Saturday.
“Burms played outstanding for us. I was very proud of him, he just looked very calm and very in control. He played very well,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, following Burman’s first-star, 38-save performance in Red Deer’s 2-1 win over the Spokane Chiefs in front of 6,011 fans at Veterans Memorial Arena.
“It’s absolutely great for his confidence and our team’s confidence that he can play that way for us. That’s a big thing. Goaltending is a big part of your team’s own psyche and it was really important that he play well.”
Burman came up big with his team outshot 32-10 through the first two periods, refusing to allow a single goal while watching Tyler Sandhu stake Red Deer to a 1-0 lead with a goal at 14:11 of the middle frame.
The Rebels picked it up in the third period, outshooting their hosts 10-7 and getting a 2-0 power-play goal from Evan Polei. Markson Bechtold finally beat Burman with 2:32 left in the contest, but the Chiefs couldn’t find the equalizer.
“I thought we looked tired tonight,” said Sutter. “Our best period was the third. In the first two (periods) we looked like a tired team. We were playing our third game in six nights but there was a lot of travel involved.
“Burms certainly gave us everything we needed to allow us to get a victory.”
While Burman struggled in his earlier appearances this fall, Sutter felt he could turn it around under the right circumstances.
“It’s just one game, but that was huge for his confidence,” said the Rebels bench boss. “He had been waiting for awhile to get in and I wanted it to be at the right time. We had to put him in a situation where he could feel good about going back in net.
“And Taylor (Rebels goaltending coach Dakers) did a great job of getting him ready over the past two weeks . . . of getting him ready to go.”
After spending most of the first 40 minutes on their heels, the Rebels were the better team in the final frame.
“Spokane did a really good job of taking our speed away through the neutral zone, and mentally we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be with the puck,” said Sutter, in reference to his team’s play over the first two periods.
“In the third period we played a very simple, basic road game and never gave up a lot of scoring opportunities,” he added.
The Rebels, who are riding a five-game winning streak, resume their six-game road trip Tuesday against the Seattle Thunderbirds. Red Deer meets the Everett Silvertips Wednesday, then takes on the Portland Winterhawks and Tri-City Americans Friday and Saturday.
The Rebels’ next home game is Nov. 14 versus the Lethbridge Hurricanes.