Brent Sutter nailed it while assessing his team’s performance during Wednesday’s 6-4 Western Hockey League win over the visiting Saskatoon Blades.
“We had moments,” Sutter deadpanned. “Moments we were good and moments we weren’t that good. Our consistency wasn’t where we would have liked it to be throughout the night, but we found a way to win.”
And that was the bottom line. The Rebels secured two points on a night they didn’t play their best game.
Brooks Maxwell had a night to remember though, sniping four goals in front of a recorded crowd of 4,451 at the Enmax Centrium. Linemate Riley Sheen also stood out offensively, picking up three assists.
“That line contributed offensively like we need them to,” said Sutter. “I wasn’t happy with the fact they were on the ice for a couple or three goals against, but they scored some big goals for us.”
Maxwell could have had as many as seven goals as he was robbed on two occasions by Blades netminder Nik Amundrud and rung a shot off the post late in the game.
“I missed an easy one there, but it was a fun night,” said the 20-year-old forward. “I’ve never done that before, it was my first hat trick and getting four was pretty cool.”
After Red Deer’s Scott Feser opened the scoring with a power-play tally 4:26 into the game, Maxwell notched his first of the evening on a short-handed double-give-and-go play with Meyer Nell eight minutes later.
Nikita Soshnin then scored a weird goal for the visitors.
With the Blades on the power play, the puck was dumped into the Red Deer zone and ended up on top of the goal. Soshnin brought his stick up to get the puck back into play and it deflected off a Red Deer defender and past goaltender Rylan Toth.
After a review, the officials ruled it a goal on a discretionary call.
Maxwell made it a 3-1 game before the period ended, burying a rebound from close range.
The Blades scored the only second-period goal when former Rebel Mason McCarty connected from a scramble, but the Rebels ruled the final frame and went up 5-2 when Maxwell tipped in a point shot from Nelson Nogier and then cashed a perfect feed from Sheen.
“I could play with that guy (Sheen) every night,” said Maxwell, after running his season’s goal total to 25. “Ever since I’ve been with that guy it’s been a point explosion and that kind of shows what kind of player he is. He’s a great passer. Playing with him is tremendous. I love it.”
Feser was credited with the Rebels’ sixth goal at 14:05 of the final frame when the puck deflected off his skate on a two-on-one break with Wyatt Johnson and was inadvertently knocked into the net by Amundrud’s stick. From there, the Blades took advantage of some lax defensive play by the Rebels and got a pair of late goals from Cameron Hebig.
Toth finished with 26 saves while the Rebels fired 39 shots at Amundrud.
“It’s one of those games we’re happy we won and got the two points, yet the kids know we need to be better Friday night,” said Sutter, looking ahead to the team’s next engagement against the visiting Calgary Hitmen.
Maxwell agreed that the Rebels can be better.
“We kind of turned over the puck over a little too much tonight,” he said. “We have to sharpen up our game, sharpen up our details.”
The Rebels pulled to within three points of Medicine Hat and Calgary, who are tied for top spot in the Central Division. Red Deer has five regular-season games remaining while the Tigers and Hitmen each have six games left.
“It’s going to be a hard game,” said Maxwell, in reference to Friday’s contest. “We’re trying to catch them so it will be kind of a four-point game for us. They’re a great team, we’ll have to play a solid game and it will be a playoff atmosphere. You never know, we might see them in the first round (of the playoffs) so we’ll want to set a tone.”
• Rebels forward Evan Polei returned to action Friday after missing nearly eight weeks with a lower body injury.