CRANBROOK — One night after laying an egg against the visiting Regina Pats, the Red Deer Rebels hatched an effective game plan Wednesday in a 5-2 Western Hockey League win over the Kootenay Ice.
“We played well, we did a really good job of executing how we want to play,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “We were really good on the forecheck and had a lot of good scoring chances.
“It got down to a one-goal game, which it probably shouldn’t have been going into the third period, but our power play stepped up and got us two goals. What we didn’t have last night we had tonight.”
Sutter was referring to his club’s man-advantage play which came up short in Fridays’ 3-2 loss to the Pats but was front and centre in the final frame of Wednesday’s outing, with Adam Musil potting a pair of extra-man markers to seal the deal.
All in all, it was a nice bounce-back from the disappointing loss to Regina.
“You have to deal with certain things during the season and tonight we were really good for the first 34 minutes, then they got a power-play goal and we got a little rattled,” said Sutter, in reference to a tally by Ice centre Matt Alfaro at 15:02 of the second period that was followed by an additional marker courtesy of Vince Loschiavo just over a minute later.
“We talked at the end of the period about how we have to be stronger physically and mentally, about how we have to just get ready for our next shift and go out and do things the right way,” said Sutter.
“We rebounded and did that in the third. We didn’t have a bad shift in the third period.”
The Rebels jumped out to a 3-0 lead with first-period leads with goals from Lane Pederson, Ivan Nikolishin and Jeff de Wit, then hung on for the win over a short-handed Kootenay squad, missing the services of injured key forwards Luke Philp, Jaedon Deschenau and Zak Zborsky.
“They are missing people who are going to affect the outcome of a game … everyone deals with injuries at one time or another that are going to affect your team,” said Sutter.
“Look at our back end, the strength of our team going into the season was our defence and we lost (Josh) Mahura right off the bat and then (Kayle) Doetzel breaks his foot and (Braden) Purtill breaks his hand.
“All of a sudden that’s three of your top six guys out of the lineup. But you go on.”
The Rebels are in Medicine Hat Friday to face the Tigers, then take on the Pats Saturday night at the Centrium.
Trevor Martin made 19 saves as the winning netminder, while Ice goaltender Wyatt Hofflin stopped 41 shots.