Rebels 4 Tigers 2
MEDICINE HAT — Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin watched his team perform from a different vantage point Tuesday and he enjoyed the view.
Wallin took in the WHL contest against the Medicine Hat Tigers from the broadcast booth at the Arena and enjoyed the proceedings as the Rebels skated to a 4-2 win.
“I wanted to take in the game from a little different perspective. You kind of remove the emotion a bit when you’re sitting up top, it’s a different point of evaluation,” said Wallin.
“But I thought we played a good game, a good road game. We got the early lead and played real well through two periods. We did a good job on our penalty kill and a real good job of eliminating their opportunities and shutting down their top guys.”
Red Deer led 1-0 after 20 minutes on Alex Petrovic’s 11th goal of the season and were outshooting the Tigers 15-11 in the second period when the hosts made their 12th shot count with just under one second remaining.
James Bettauer’s 21st of the season was allowed following a review and the game was knotted at one after 40 minutes.
“We turned the puck over twice after winning the faceoff,” said Wallin.
“That’s a goal that can’t happen. We had to bear down in that situation.”
Petrovic, however, struck for his second goal of the night — a man-advantage marker — just 39 seconds into the final frame and the Rebels had a permanent lead.
“We responded well to the late second-period goal. We came out strong in the third period, got the early power play, bore down and capitalized. That was a big goal for us,” said Wallin.
Tyson Ness potted the winner at the 10-minute mark, and after Cole Grbavac responded for the Tigers at 12:49, Rebels captain Adam Kambeitz scored into an empty net in the final minute.
Deven Dubyk made 28 saves for the Rebels, who directed 34 shots at Tigers goaltender Tyler Bunz.
Wallin was impressed with his club’s ongoing work ethic, a trait that has become commonplace in recent weeks despite the team being severely short-handed due to injuries and eliminated from the playoff race during the weekend.
“We played hard again and that’s what we have to continue to do,” he said. “ No one is happy about being out of the playoffs but we have to play these last few games the right way and we have to play them hard.
“There’s always something to play for. It the time of the year when we evaluate the character of these guys so it’s good to see them still pushing.”
Wallin was also thrilled for Ness, who reached the 20-goal mark in his second season.
“He’s a guy who scored those goals without having a lot of power-play time,” said Wallin. “He’s turned into a pretty dependable guy. He’s not a real offensively-gifted player, most of those goals he scored from being around the net. But he’s a very versatile player, he’s used in a lot of different roles. He’s a real good penalty-killer and a real, dependable, heady guy and it’s nice to see him hit that mark.”
The Rebels conclude their season this weekend with Friday and Saturday home dates with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Edmonton Oil Kings.