Ice 4 Rebels 1
CRANBROOK — An inability to cash in offensively and a late defensive miscue added up to a Western Hockey League loss for the Red Deer Rebels Friday at the Cranbrook Recreation Complex.
The Kootenay Ice got the eventual winning goal on a breakaway by Joe Antilla with eight minutes remaining in the contest, then added two late markers to record a 4-1 victory before 2,626 fans.
“It was a good hockey game and we had lots of opportunities to score and we didn’t capitalize on them again,” said Rebels head coach/VP of hockey operations Jesse Wallin, who watched his club fire 39 shots at Kamloops Blazers goaltender Jeff Bosch two nights earlier and come up empty in a 1-0 loss.
“And then we had one breakdown where we gave up a breakaway when a guy just slid right past our defenceman. It was an unnecessary mistake and it was the difference in the hockey game.”
Kevin King notched an empty-net insurance goal at 18:10 of the final frame and Ice defenceman Joey Leach connected even strength 31 seconds later to round out the scoring.
Colton Mayor, with his first of the season, opened the scoring for Red Deer 15:12 into the game, but Jesse Ismond replied just over two minutes later. From there, the clubs battled through a scoreless second period in which the Rebels were assessed four of five minor penalties.
“We had lots of scoring chances, including a two-on-one on our first shift where their goalie (Nathan Lieuwen) made a huge save,” said Wallin. “And we had two or three point-blank chances in the third period when we just didn’t bear down on pucks.
“The right guys had the puck at the right times, but just seemed to be shooting it into (Lieuwen’s) chest. Their goaltender made some big saves but I thought we made him look good at times when we either rushed our shots or didn’t bear down on the pucks. We didn’t capitalize on some opportunities and then we gave up the late breakaway.”
The Rebels killed off all seven Kootenay power plays and were zero-for-four themselves with a man advantage.
Lieuwen made 27 saves and was named first star of the game. Red Deer netminder Darcy Kuemper stopped 28 shots and was named second star.
“We just have to stay the course,” said Wallin, who is confident that his club will rediscover its scoring touch sooner than later.
“I wasn’t displeased at all with our play tonight. We worked hard and didn’t give up a lot of opportunities,” he added.
“Our penalty kill was very good and Kuemper was there for us when we needed him. We just have to stay with it and bury the opportunities we get.”
The Rebels, who fell to 8-5-0-0, conclude their two-game trip tonight against the Spokane Chiefs.
Red Deer’s next home games are next Friday and Saturday versus the Vancouver Giants and Saskatoon Blades.