EDMONTON — The Red Deer Rebels were somewhat lucky to come out of Sunday’s Western Hockey League date with the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings with a victory.
They weren’t as fortunate 24 hours later.
“It was kind of a carryover from last night,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, following a 3-1 loss Monday to the Edmonton Oil Kings in front of 6,928 fans at Rexall Place.
“We just didn’t have any intensity or any emotion. We weren’t engaged like we need to play.”
Sutter gave newcomer Jake DeBrusk a passing grade but otherwise was somewhat disgruntled with the play of his veteran skaters.
“Our best players just aren’t our best players right now and it’s hurting us,” said the Rebels boss.
The Rebels were outshot 17-4 in the first period but managed to hold the Oil Kings to a single goal — Brandon Baddock’s 15th of the season.
“It was terrible,” Sutter said of his club’s slow start. “We were too much on our heels. We weren’t working hard enough and we weren’t playing with the pace you need to be successful.”
Brett Pollock gave Edmonton a 2-0 lead 25 seconds into the third period when he directed a bounce off the boards past Rebels netminder Trevor Martin.
DeBrusk potted Red Deer’s lone goal 16 minutes later and with Martin on the Red Deer bench in favour of an extra attacker, Oil Kings forward Luke Bertolucci potted an empty-net marker with 35 seconds remaining.
Martin finished with 35 saves, while Edmonton goalie Payton Lee blocked 24 shots.
The setback dropped the Rebels into sole possession of third place in the Eastern Conference, two points back of both the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who have a game in hand, and the Calgary Hitmen, who have played two more than Red Deer.
Meanwhile, the Brandon Wheat Kings are just a single point behind the Rebels and the Prince Albert Raiders are three in arrears.
“We have to get back at it, we’re losing ground,” said Sutter. “We have to get back to playing the right way, and that’s the biggest thing — getting guys committed to play the game the right way.
“You have to understand that you’re not going to score four or five goals every night. You have to be able to win games 1-0 or 2-1 and when you’re giving up 40 shots a night it’s hard to do that.”
• Sutter acquired the WHL rights to forward Taden Rattie from the Portland Winterhawks Monday in exchange for a fourth-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft.
Rattie, the brother of former Portland star forward and St. Louis Blues prospect Ty Rattie, will leave the Calgary Mustangs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League to join the Rebels today. The 17-year-old Airdrie product committed to Western Michigan of the NCAA while playing with the Whitecourt Wolverines last season.
The six-foot-four, 190-pound winger was dealt to the Mustangs in November and in 87 career AJHL games he has produced 16 goals and 31 points and has racked up 297 minutes in penalties.
“He skates real well for a big guy,” said Sutter. “He’s an up and down guy who finishes all his checks and who will give us some heaviness. He has to co