Photo by ASHLI BARRETT/Advocate Staff

Photo by ASHLI BARRETT/Advocate Staff

Rebels hit road on a high

Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter isn’t making any outrageous demands of his top players. He simply wants his best to be his best. All of them. Currently, import forwards Michael Spacek (5g,7a) and Ivan Nikolishin (4-7) sit one-two among Rebels scorers with 12 and 11 points, respectively. From there, the offensive production drops off to the five points collected by defenceman Colton Bobyk (2-3) and Presten Kopeck (1-4).

Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter isn’t making any outrageous demands of his top players.

He simply wants his best to be his best. All of them.

Currently, import forwards Michael Spacek (5g,7a) and Ivan Nikolishin (4-7) sit one-two among Rebels scorers with 12 and 11 points, respectively. From there, the offensive production drops off to the five points collected by defenceman Colton Bobyk (2-3) and Presten Kopeck (1-4).

The Rebels have also surrendered 17 goals over the last four games, so there’s some heaving lifting that has to be done in that department, as well.

“We need to get some guys playing a little better,” Sutter said Monday morning as the team prepared to head west on a four-game Western Hockey League road trip starting tonight at Kamloops.

“Our offence has dropped off and we’ve given up too many goals in our last four games. We have to tighten up defensively.”

Sutter detected a turn-around of sorts in Saturday’s 5-4 shootout win over the visiting Calgary Hitmen.

“Last night we had the puck more, our puck possession time was better than in the two previous games,” he said. “But when you go on the road and are playing four (games) in five nights, you have to play the game the right way and make sure you keep things tight.

“But there are certain guys who have to get going offensively for us. They are key players, older players who play in our top nine forwards. And yet we have to be careful because we don’t want them cheating, either. They just have to get to those scoring areas in the offensive zone.”

Sutter wasn’t throwing any names around, but Conner Bleackley has garnered just a goal and an assist in five outings and Wyatt Johnson, who has been in and out of the top six, has just a single helper in seven games.

On another note, the Rebels boarded the team bus Monday morning with momentum on their side following their shootout conquest of the Hitmen, a result that halted a two-game losing streak and improved the team’s record to 5-2.

“It was a heck of a game with a bit of everything,” said Sutter. “Both teams played hard. There were skilled plays and lots of hits. It was a very intense game.”

It was also a game that got away from the Rebels in the third period. Down 3-1 after 40 minutes, the Hitmen got early third-period goals from Jordy Stallard and Jake Bean (power play) and jumped ahead of their hosts when Taylor Sandheim connected at 12:15.

Then, with Hitmen defenceman Michael Zipp serving a delay of game infraction, Sutter pulled netminder Rylan Toth to give his squad a two-man advantage, a move that paid off when Grayson Pawlenchuk connected on a one-timer at 19:23 to pull the Rebels even.

Following an exciting but scoreless five-minute three-on-three overtime frame, Nikolishin potted the lone goal of the ensuing shootout. Toth, who finished with 27 saves through 65 minutes, denied all three Calgary shooters — Radel Fazleev, Bean and Layne Bensmiller.

“We needed a positive response after last two games because we didn’t play well in Lethbridge (5-2 loss last Tuesday) and although we had our moments in Calgary (in a 4-1 setback Friday), there were stretches where we weren’t very good,” said Sutter.

“It was important to get somewhat back to how we want to play and how we have to play.”

The Rebels led 2-0 after one period on goals from Lane Pederson, his first of the season, and Evan Polei, his third. Bean slashed the deficit in half at 4:54 of the second period when his point shot beat Toth through a crowd a mere one second after a tripping call on Pawlenchuk had expired.

Haydn Fleury, from the left faceoff circle, ripped a wrist shot past Hitmen netminder Lasse Petersen at 12:17 of the period and the Rebels were seemingly in good shape with a two-goal cushion after 40 minutes.

“We played pretty well for two periods, then gave up two quick goals in the third,” said Sutter. “Outside of that five minutes, I thought we played a pretty good game.

“We gave up another goal later in the third, but we got a break by them taking a penalty late in the game and we were able to capitalize on it. Then we got into a three-on-three not knowing what was going to happen, expect there was going to be scoring chances.

“It was great for our fans. There’s not a lot of defensive focus with that much open ice. You’re just trying to handle what’s coming at you.”

Petersen made 15 saves before being replaced at the start of the third period by Kyle Dumba, the younger brother of former Rebels defenceman Mathew. Dumba stopped 13 of the 14 shots he faced over the final 25 minutes.

The Rebels take on the Kelowna Rockets Wednesday, then conclude the road trip with stops in Victoria and Vancouver Friday and Satur

Rebels

Just Posted

Alberta has made a more detailed framework for those looking to acquire an exemption to the mandatory indoor mask bylaw. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Alberta changes requirements for mask exemptions

Masks wearing has been recommended for almost a year and provincially mandated… Continue reading

Alberta’a chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that there are more than 328,000 vaccine appointments booked over the next seven days. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta surpasses 2 million doses administered of COVID-19 vaccine

Red Deer down to 835 active cases of COVID-19

RCMP file photo (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)
RCMP investigating shooting near Maskwacis

Maskwacis and Wetaskiwin RCMP are seeking public assistance after a shooting has… Continue reading

Rode
Smith among impressive group of RDC soccer Queens recruits

There have been a number of cases where younger girls have developed… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools is projecting a $4-million budget deficit for 2021-22 school year. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools prepares $124-million budget

$1 million COVID recovery plan to assist students

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Vancouver Canucks' Nils Hoglander, right, is checked by Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during third-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Thursday, May 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, right, drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch, left, and guard Jalen Harris during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

NFL schedules get off to strong starts with Week 1 twinbills

NFL schedules get off to strong starts with Week 1 twinbills

The Saddledome, home of the Calgary Flames, is shown in Calgary, Thursday, March 12, 2020. The final three games of Canada's Secret Cup women's hockey tournament will be played in Calgary's NHL arena.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

FILE - In this Thursday, July 18, 2019 file photo, Ron Francis talks to reporters in Seattle after he was introduced as the first general manager for Seattle's yet-to-be-named NHL hockey expansion team. Four years since George McPhee was a “puppet master” of the NHL leading up to the Vegas expansion draft, general managers approached this trade deadline with Seattle’s upcoming addition to the league in mind. While Kraken GM Ron Francis prepares – and maybe made a handshake deal or two already like McPhee did – Seattle was on his colleagues’ minds.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Kraken still plan to hire coach before expansion draft

Kraken still plan to hire coach before expansion draft

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney attends a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Simmering internal discontent in his United Conservative caucus has boiled over into an open challenge to his leadership. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Two Alberta UCP members kicked out of caucus after challenging Kenney’s leadership

Two Alberta UCP members kicked out of caucus after challenging Kenney’s leadership

Toronto Blue Jays' Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (13) celebrates in the outfield at the end of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Thursday, May 13, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Bichette, Blue Jays rally again to beat Braves 8-4

Bichette, Blue Jays rally again to beat Braves 8-4

FILE - Jordan Spieth waits his turn to putt during the third round of the Valero Texas Open golf tournament in San Antonio, in this Saturday, April 3, 2021, file photo. Spieth will try to complete the career Grand Slam next week at the PGA Championship. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas, File)
Momentum for McIlroy, few others going into PGA Championship

Momentum for McIlroy, few others going into PGA Championship

Most Read