Rebels 3 Pats 2
REGINA — One night after running low on batteries, the Red Deer Rebels looked like a recharged crew Wednesday at the Brandt Centre.
Despite dressing a mere 16 skaters — including midget AAA affiliate forwards Conner Bleakley and Dexter Brickers — due to a long list of injuries, the Rebels downed the Regina Pats 3-2 in a Western Hockey League match viewed by 3,677 fans. The Rebels’ vitality level was noticeably higher than was the case in a 5-1 loss to the Moose Jaw Warriors 24 hours earlier.
“We came out much better tonight,” said Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin, whose squad held a 13-11 advantage in shots though a scoreless opening period, fired two goals in the middle frame and never trailed at any point in the evening. “We just seemed to have more energy tonight and played a real solid game.”
Tyson Ness gave the visitors a 1-0 lead with his 17th goal of the season a mere 56 seconds into the middle stanza and Brooks Maxwell increased the margin with a power-play marker at 4:28. But the Pats potted a man-advantage marker of their own just past the midway point of the period, with Dominik Volek pulling the trigger.
In Wallin’s opinion, the Rebels should have come out of the frame with more than a single-goal cushion. But Pats netminder Matt Hewitt came up large and the visitors also misfired more than once.
“We had some real good (scoring) opportunities through the second period,” he said. “Hewitt made a couple of real big saves and we missed a couple of glorious opportunites that would have given us a bigger lead.
“But we ended up having to grind it out at the end because we left it tight. But I thought we did a good job of limiting their opportunities and really worked hard through our entire lineup. It was a gutsy win.”
Chad Robinson notched the eventual winner at 4:27 of the third period, at which time Hewitt was pulled by head coach Pat Conacher and replaced by Adam Beukeboom. Jordan Weal replied for the Pats two minutes later with Rebels defenceman Mathew Dumba serving a boarding penalty, but the hosts couldn’t beat Red Deer netminder Deven Dubyk for another goal.
Dubyk finished with 20 saves. Hewitt stopped 20 shots before getting the hook and Beukeboom blocked all four shots he faced over the final 14 minutes and change.
Ness, who also assisted on Robinson’s tally, was selected the first star of the game. Dyson Stevenson, who picked up a pair of helpers for the Pats, was named second star and Robinson got the third star.
“Ness and Robinson were both real good tonight,” said Wallin.
The Rebels were en route to Red Deer roughly one hour following the completion of the fourth and final game of a road trip which began Friday in Prince Albert.
Red Deer was 2-2 on the trip and sits eight points in arrears of the Brandon Wheat Kings, who hold down the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Rebels are nine points back of the Pats and have a game in hand on both clubs, but have only nine games remaining on their regular-season schedule.
Red Deer hosts the Swift Current Broncos Friday at 7:30 p.m. and takes on the Saskatoon Blades 24 hours later at the Centrium.
“We just have to continue to take things one day at a time,” said Wallin. “We’ll enjoy tonight, but it’s a quick turnaround for us. We have a long bus trip home tonight, we’ll have a light skate tomorrow and then get back at ‘er Friday in our building.
“We have to get focused and ready to start things off the right way when we get back home.”