KAMLOOPS — The Red Deer Rebels’ so-called go-to guys have been no-show guys too often this season.
That trend continued Tuesday as the Rebels dropped a 4-1 Western Hockey League decision to the Kamloops Blazers in front of 3,527 fans at Interior Savings Centre despite firing 37 shots at former Red Deer netminder Bolton Pouliot.
“We need offence from some of these individuals we brought in last year and they haven’t produced like we thought they would this year,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, referring in part to the likes of 20-year-old Rhyse Dieno and Dominik Volek and Matt Bellerive, both 19. “These guys have to be better for us.”
On a positive and yet unfortunate note, the Rebels on four occasions rang a shot off a goal post and struck a cross bar for good measure. But in the end, it was Pouliot who earned first-star status and the victory.
“We had opportunities, but you’re not going to win too often when you score four goals in three games,” said Sutter, in reference to the amount of Red Deer markers in the first half of the club’s six-game road trip that continues tonight with a date with the Kelowna Rockets and concludes with Friday and Saturday meetings with the Kootenay ice and Lethbridge Hurricanes.
The Blazers led 1-0 after one period on a power-play goal from Chase Souto, then increased the margin to two when Mike Needham struck eight minutes into the second stanza.
Rebels overage forward Lukas Sutter notched a man-advantage goal late in the middle frame, deflecting Brady Gaudet’s shot past Pouliot, but the hosts put the game away with Aspen Sterzer’s ninth of the season at 11:15 of the third period and a late tally from Cole Ully.
Pouliot finished with 36 saves, while Rebels rookie Taz Burman turned aside 31 shots.
“Taz hadn’t played in a while and I didn’t think he was that sharp,” said Sutter.
Meanwhile, the Rebels didn’t make life that difficult for Pouliot, despite the final shot count.
“A lot of our shots tonight were right into the goalie’s belly,” said Sutter.
“We just didn’t have the urgency to score from the guys we got goals from last year. We need more from guys like Volek, Dieno, Bellerive, Sutter and (Brooks) Maxwell.
“They think that scoring three to five goals to this point is having a good season, but that’s not good enough. We changed some things tonight to create more opportunities and I thought it did that, but at the end of the day we didn’t generate much on the scoresheet. We’ve played better the last two games of this trip but haven’t got any results.”
l Defenceman Ryan Pilon, the third overall pick in the 2011 WHL bantam draft, has left the Lethbridge Hurricanes and returned home to Duck Lake, Sask., to await a trade . . .Meanwhile, the Moose Jaw Warriors have traded 20-year-old forward Todd Fiddler to the Prince George Cougars for a fifth-round bantam draft pick. Fiddler scored 42 goals for the Spokane Chiefs last season before being acquired by the Warriors and eventually walking out on the club.