CALGARY — Netminder Rylan Toth was a bright spot for the Red Deer Rebels Friday night at the Saddledome.
Make that the only bright spot in a 4-1 Western Hockey League loss to the Calgary Hitmen.
“Our goalie was outstanding, but outside of him and (Michael) Spacek, we had a lot of bad hockey players here tonight,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, who didn’t include Luke Philp in the conversation since the overage centre made his team debut after being out nearly three months following ankle injury.
“We didn’t play hard enough, we didn’t battle hard enough and the volume of our turnovers was terrible. It’s the same old story — teams are geared up to play us and if we’re not willing to match their intensity and their emotion level, then the result will be the same.
“We’ve beaten Calgary once this season and we haven’t beaten Lethbridge because of that … because we don’t play at the emotional level that you need to be at to be successful.”
Carson Twarynski scored his first of three goals on the evening before 9,809 fans to give the hosts a lead 4:23 into the contest, a goal that was matched by Rebels overage winger Adam Helewka — his 33rd of the season — at 3:52 of the second period.
But that was it for the Rebels, who watched Jake Bean notch the eventual winner midway through the third period with Rebels rearguard Haydn Fleury serving a cross-checking penalty.
“Haydn Fleury’s penalty was a joke,” Sutter fumed.
“You can’t do that stuff in a 1-1 game. Until we learn how to win, how to play the game the right way, this is going to be the result.”
Twarynski rounded out his hat-trick performance with a goal at 17:52 and another at 19:11, the latter with Toth on the Red Deer bench.
The Rebels forward unit of Helewka, Adam Musil and Jake DeBrusk, impressive in a 4-1 win over visiting Medicine Hat Wednesday, was a basic no-show two nights later.
“Those guys were terrible and that’s unacceptable … just not good enough,” said Sutter.
“You can’t expect to be successful if you’re going to play like that.
“It’s hugely disappointing and it makes the coaching staff sick. We’re tired of it because it’s stuff we’ve harped on for 50-some games now. We bring more talent to the team, but instead of our work ethic going to another level we accept it to be average because we think we get can through on skill.
“(Assistant coach) Steve O’Rourke said it best. He said it’s not that other teams are better than us, it’s just that other teams do a better job of playing the game the right way.”
Toth, selected as the game’s third star, turned aside 37 shots in defeat. The Rebels directed 28 at Calgary stopper Cody Porter.
The Rebels host the Tri-City Americans tonight before heading west on a four-game road trip starting Tuesday at Kelowna.