Rebels 5 Giants 2
As a member of the Everett Silvertips, Byron Froese had seen plenty of the perennial Western Hockey League powerhouse Vancouver Giants over the past two seasons.
But the Red Deer Rebels forward didn’t show much respect towards the Don Hay-coached team Friday night at the Centrium, scoring twice in a 5-2 Red Deer win before 4,408 fans.
“We played a good, solid 60 minutes. We finished checks and played with a lot of energy,” said Froese, who was acquired in an off-season deal that sent disgruntled centre Landon Ferraro to Everett.
The Giants had won four straight coming into Friday’s outing and opened the scoring when Nathan Burns connected just 4:06 into the contest.
But Froese pulled the Rebels even with a power-play one-timer from the high slot eight minutes later and the hosts poured in three unanswered goals in the second period.
“We knew they (Giants) would come out hard and we wanted to match them and we did a good job,” said Froese.
“They’re a good team but you can’t give them too much respect . . . you have to match their game.”
Andrej Kudrna gave the Rebels a permanent lead at 8:27 of the second period, cashing in a turnover pass from John Persson, and Froese — with his second of the game and eighth of the season – and Brett Fersguson, who buried a drop pass from Matt Dumba, upped the count to 4-1 after 40 minutes.
Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin said his club’s ability to shrug off the early 1-0 deficit was a key to gaining the positive result.
“That’s been a focus for us this season – getting comfortable playing tight games and staying with it.
“We had a week off and sometimes you come out a little slow with that kind of a layoff, but the guys didn’t get rattled when we got down early.”
Turner Elson converted a corner pass from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for a 5-1 Red Deer lead 30 seconds into the final frame and Burns closed out the scoring with his second of the game – a power-play marker – at 7:59.
“Overall we played a solid game,” said Wallin.
“Our special teams were very good (three-for-seven on the power play and six-for-seven on the penalty kill) and we really showed some mental toughness.”
Darcy Kuemper made 27 saves while recording his 10th win of the season. Giants starting netminder
Mark Segal stopped 18 of 22 shots before being replaced by Brendan Jensen, who blocked nine of 10 shots.
The Rebels are back in action tonight against the visiting Saskatoon Blades.