Tigers 4 Rebels 1
Injuries and suspensions are starting to catch up to the Red Deer Rebels.
The Rebels’ effort on Saturday night at the Centrium was clearly superior to the push they exerted in a 5-1 loss to the lowly Lethbridge Hurricanes 24 hours earlier, but wasn’t good enough as the home side fell 4-1 to the Medicine Hat Tigers in a WHL contest viewed by a recorded gathering of 5,047.
Minus the services of injured forwards Adam Kambeitz and Daulton Siwak, suspended forward Turner Elson and injured defenceman Aaron Borejko, the Rebels were behind the eight-ball at the drop of the puck.
In addition, forward Joel Hamilton left the game in the first period after being drilled into the end boards by Kale Kessey, who was assessed a checking-to-the-head major and then took a beating from Rebels rearguard Justin Weller.
All in all, considering the Rebels’ shortage of manpower, Saturday’s effort was at least honourable.
“It was a tough game to evaluate. We were missing some key guys and our younger guys played a lot of minutes,” said Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin.
“Then we got down in numbers as the game progressed and there was a lot of special teams play, more than we’ve seen this year. I thought our penalty kill did a good job considering the guys we were missing.”
The Rebels came out on the short end of two to three questionable calls as the Tigers were on the power play on 11 occasions, cashing in twice.
After Rebels forward Chad Robinson broke down the right side and beat netminder Tyler Bunz to the far corner for a short-handed goal 5:08 into the contest, defenceman James Bettauer pulled the visitors even just over two minutes later with Red Deer forward John Persson serving an interference infraction.
Wallin felt his club was short-changed on the play.
“I thought there was interference right off the faceoff (in the Red Deer zone) which was a concern a number of times,” he said. “Our centreman was held up on and wasn’t allowed to get out (to the point).”
The Tigers then struck for two goals early in the second frame as Boston Leier connected at 3:19 and Jayden Hart added a power-play marker just under a minute later.
“Their second and third goals just came down to soft coverage after we’d talked all day about being stronger around the net,” said Wallin.
The Rebels were the better team in the third period but Bunz stopped all 16 shots he faced. With the Red Deer net empty, Emerson Etem closed out the scoring for the Tigers with his league-leading 27th of the season in the final minute.
“That was a big win, they’ve been a little hard to come by lately,” said Tigers head coach Shaun Clouston, whose club — like the Rebels, who have now lost five straight games — have struggled over the last two weeks.
“It was our fourth game in five nights and I was impressed with our start. I thought our game was really solid and we showed lots of energy and set the pace. I was happy.”
Obviously, Wallin didn’t feel the same level of satisfaction although his club showed more life than was displayed in Friday’s loss to visiting Lethbridge.
“We made a good push through the second half of the game. A lot of our kids pressed hard, but at the end of the day we fell short,” he said.
“It’s tough, it’s frustrating, but we just have to fight through it.”
Elson has been suspended indefinitely for a hit in Friday’s game and is questionable for the Rebels’ next contest — at home Wednesday versus the Spokane Chiefs.
Meanwhile, Kambeitz is out four to six weeks with what appears to be a broken wrist. Borejko should be back in uniform on Wednesday, while the length of time Hamilton and Siwak will be out is unknown.
— copyright Red Deer Advocate