SASKATOON — According to Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, there was a valid reason his club provided the Saskatoon Blades with their third WHL win of the season Friday.
“We didn’t play very well here. It was disappointing to see how we played,” said Sutter, whose squad fell to a team that last weekend snapped a 16-game losing streak dating back to last season and then upset the host Swift Current Broncos 4-3 Wednesday.
“Jeff (Rebels associate coach Truitt) said it best: ‘Right now we have a bunch of guys you’d like to take fishing, but they’re not going to battle like they need to’.”
The Rebels, who fell to 3-6-1-0, never led in the game and in fact trailed 3-1 after 40 minutes before drawing to within a goal while outshooting their guest 11-6 in the third period.
Sam McKechnie potted his third of the season to give the Blades a 1-0 lead after one period in front of 3,857 fans at the Credit Union Centre. Defenceman Brett Cote drew the Rebels even with his first of the season 8:18 into the middle frame, but Landon Welykholowa replied for the hosts just 26 seconds later and Blades forward Alex Forsberg notched a short-handed marker late in the period.
Red Deer captain Conner Bleackley connected at 17:19 of the third period, but the Rebels came up short once again.
“Our older players haven’t been good. At the end of the day, that’s the reality of it,” said Sutter. “That’s why our power play is suffering, that’s why five-on five we’ve given up so many goals.
“We still believe we have the right group here, they just have to somehow figure this out because right now they’re not pulling the weight they need to pull on a period-to-period and game-to-game basis.”
Blades netminder Alex Moodie stopped 32 shots and was named first star of the game, while Rylan Toth turned aside 28 shots for Red Deer. Both clubs were zero-for-three on the power play.
The Rebels close out their brief two-game road trip tonight against the Prince Albert Raiders, who fell 3-1 to the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings Friday
“We’re going to have to be better than we have been,” said Sutter.
The Rebels host the Prince George Cougars and Moose Jaw Warriors next Friday and Saturday.
• Bleackley and Rebels defenceman Haydn Fleury will suit up with Team WHL in the first two games of the 2014 Subway Super Series — Nov. 10 in Saskatoon and the following night at Brandon.
The Super Series will conclude with Nov. 13 and 17 games against Team OHL in Peterborough and Kingston, and Nov. 18 and 20 contests versus Team QMJHL at Bathurst, N.B., and Rimouski, Que.