Even with a defeat still visible in their rear view mirror, the Red Deer Rebels will take a measure of momentum into tonight’s Western Hockey League clash with the visiting Vancouver Giants.
“The last couple of games have been pretty good for us. They’ve both been good team efforts,” Rebels netminder Deven Dubyk said Tuesday prior to a practice session at the Centrium. “We’ve been putting a lot of hard work into our practices and are bringing it into the games. We came up short against Calgary (a 4-2 loss Sunday at the Saddledome that was preceded by a 5-1 win over visiting Prince George Saturday) but it was a great effort by our team and that’s something we have to take into tomorrow’s game.”
The Rebels also have the Tri-City Americans and Brandon Wheat Kings on their weekend schedule, with the teams visiting Friday and Saturday. Red Deer trails eighth-place Brandon by four points in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s a big week for us and we want to just take it game by game starting with tomorrow,” said Dubyk. “Vancouver is a good, hard-working team. They have a good head coach in Don Hay and he really puts a big emphasis on hard work and dedication. It’s going to be a tough battle.”
Clearly, the Saturday meeting with Brandon should be a proverbial four-pointer, although looking past the Giants and the Americans, who are just two points out of first place overall, would be downright foolhardy for the Rebels.
“We’d like that Saturday game to be meaningful . . . to be a game where we can put ourselves in a position to pull ahead of (the Wheat Kings),” said Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin. “But you can’t look too far ahead. Our next game is tomorrow and that’s where our focus has to be. We want to be as good a team as we can and take care of those points and set ourselves up for the weekend.”
The Rebels were strong over the final two periods versus Prince George and outshot Calgary 43-34 in Sunday’s setback.
“We played two solid games on the weekend and we just have to continue to build off of them,” said Wallin. “We played well enough to win in Calgary and we just need the same effort tomorrow. We have to continue to keep battling hard and working together and we have to find a way to score more goals.”
Dubyk noted that the mood in the Rebels dressing room is mostly upbeat and relaxed.
“We’re taking things pretty seriously but having fun at the same time,” he said. “We know that we have to be prepared for each game and that we have to start pulling out the two points. That’s crucial, especially at this point in the season and especially at home.”
Dubyk liked his own performance over the last two outings.
“The games represented a jump up for me. The week before I didn’t play my best,” he said. “Hopefully I can keep the team in the game tomorrow. That’s my duty . . . to give us a chance to win every night and hopefully we can put some wins together down the stretch.”