Rebels 3 Giants 1
The Red Deer Rebels might be down, but they’re not out.
Just ask the Vancouver Giants, who came out on the short end of a Western Hockey League match with the visiting Rebels Sunday evening.
In a battle of tired teams, the Rebels had the extra jump in front of 6,110 fans at Pacific Coliseum, getting the eventual deciding goal from Tyson Ness late in the second period en route to posting a 3-1 triumph in the last game of a four-game B.C. Division jaunt.
“It was a really, really solid team effort,” said Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin. “Everyone played hard and played a solid team game, from (goaltender Deven Dubyk) right through our entire defence and every forward on the ice. It was a real gutsy road win.”
The visitors set the pace early as Charles Inglis tallied just 18 seconds into the contest. Riley Keiser evened the count at 14:25 of the middle frame, setting the stage for Ness’ winner four minutes later and a power-play insurance tally by Turner Elson with just seven seconds remaining in the game.
Dubyk turned aside 29 shots and Giants netminder Adam Morrison made 31 saves.
The Rebels earned five of a possible eight points on the trip, and although Wallin termed it a success he felt the four-game excursion could have been even more bountiful. Red Deer lost the opener 3-1 Wednesday at Prince George despite outshooting the host Cougars by a healthy margin and after knocking off the favoured Kamloops Blazers 3-2 two nights later, dropped a 4-3 shootout decision at Kelowna Saturday.
“All in all it was a good trip,” said Wallin. “It was a disappointing loss at Prince George where we played well enough to win and felt those were two points we should have had.
“But I definitely liked we way we played while getting two huge points against a strong Kamloops team. We got a point in Kelowna but played well enough to win that game, so really we played well enough to get all eight points.”
Due to having seven regulars out of the lineup, the Rebels used affiliates Scott Feser and Dexter Bricker up front and Kevin Pochuk on the blueline during the trip and all three got top marks from Wallin.
“Those younger guys all played well for us and played some important minutes,” said the Rebels bench boss. “We had to use everybody on this trip and they all stepped up and played well. I was real proud of the overall effort and proud of the way we played.”
The Rebels will stay off the ice today and will practise at the Penhold Regional Multiplex Wednesday and then early Thursday before embarking on a four-game swing into the Eastern Division starting Friday at Prince Albert.
Red Deer is seven points back of the eighth-place Brandon Wheat Kings and eight in arrears of the Regina Pats in their quest to gain an Eastern Conference playoff berth.
The Rebels have played two fewer games than Brandon and have one game in hand on the Pats.
“We just have to keep chipping away. No one in our room is going to quit,” said Wallin. “We just have to be playing solid hockey and giving ourselves a chance to win every night.
“We can’t control what the other teams do, we can only control what’s in our hands. We have to make sure that we’re prepared to do our job every night. That’s what our focus is.”
• Scoring in regulation time for the Rebels Saturday at Kelowna were Devan Fafard, with his first-ever WHL marker, Alex Petrovic and Matthew Dumba, whose 17th of the season at 19:28 of the third period forced an eventual scoreless overtime frame.
Brett Bulmer had two goals for the Rockets, with Damon Severson also connecting in regulation time.
Dubyk made 38 saves through 65 minutes. Adam Brown stopped 28 shots at the other end.