Hitmen 4 Rebels 2
CALGARY — Five days after being embarrassed by the Calgary Hitmen at home, the Red Deer Rebels were in a mood to return the disfavour Sunday.
But while the visiting Rebels carried the play through more than their share of the late afternoon Western Hockey League contest at the Saddledome, they weren’t able to solve Hitmen netminder Chris Driedger on a consistent basis and fell 4-2 before 8,314 fans.
Despite the setback, the Rebels could take solace in the fact they were far superior to the same club that dropped a 5-1 decision to the Hitmen Tuesday at the Centrium.
“We played hard and battled hard today. It was a pretty solid game on our part,” said Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin, whose club remains four points back of the eighth-place Brandon Wheat Kings in the Eastern Conference with two games in hand.
“We had the puck a lot and created a lot of pressure in their end of the rink.”
Chase Clayton gave the hosts a 1-0 lead with a short-handed marker five minutes into the game and then notched his 10th of the season — on a power play — late in the second period to double the margin.
Mathew Dumba got one back for the Rebels on a power play in the first minute of the third period, but Jimmy Bubnick restored Calgary’s two-goal cushion at 6:13. Tyson Ness, with his 12th of the season, answered for the Rebels just 73 seconds later, but the visitors couldn’t find a way to get another puck past Driedger, who was named the game’s first star following a 41-save performance.
“We came out a little flat, so I got tested pretty early, which helped me stay in the game,” Driedger, who faced just 19 shots in his last outing Friday night against Prince George, told the Calgary Sun.
“You’d think that goalies would like the 19-shot game over the 43-shot game. But the constant shots really helped me stay in the game.”
Victor Rask sealed the deal for Calgary with a empty-net tally in the final minute.
“They (Hitmen) capitalized on one more opportunity that we did today,” said Wallin. “But overall I thought we played a real good hockey game.
“We just have to find a way to get above the line. We generated some opportunites today and now we have to find a way to capitalize on a few more opportunities. We have to find a way to get dirty goals while continuing to make sure that our work ethic is where it needs to be. I liked a lot of parts of our game today and now we just have to get above that line again.”
Deven Dubyk made 30 saves for the Rebels, who host the Vancouver Giants Wednesday at 7 p.m., then entertain the Tri-City Americans and Wheat Kings Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
l Turner Elson scored twice and added two assists and Dumba, who also had two helpers, Adam Kambeitz and Chad Robinson also tallied for the Rebels in a 5-1 win over the Prince George Cougars Saturday at the Centrium.
Dubyk made 32 saves as the Rebels outshot the visitors 35-33.