The Red Deer Rebels’ winning percentage dipped over the past week, but it’s not like their confidence has taken a beating.
The Rebels had their six-game winning streak snapped when the host Victoria Royals scored a late tying goal and then prevailed 4-3 in a shootout on Nov. 13. On Friday, Red Deer dropped another shootout decision — 4-3 to the host Lethbridge Hurricanes — and 24 hours later fell 2-1 to visiting Saskatoon despite shelling Blades netminder Andrey Makarov with 44 shots.
Talk about a fine line between winning and losing.
“We’re not concerned at all,” Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin said Tuesday. “I thought we deserved to win the game in Victoria, we didn’t play well at all in Lethbridge and the game here Saturday was a real good game that could have gone either way. We certainly had enough chances to tie it in the third period.
“We’re not sitting here wondering what’s wrong, we know we have to play a certain way and that we have to play that way all the time. The game in Lethbridge was a bit of a wake-up call that way.”
As Wallin noted, his charges may have been harbouring the remnants of a travel hangover heading into the past weekend, with three players in particular — Mathew Dumba, Adam Kambeitz and Alex Petrovic — feeling a bit of extra fatigue after playing in a Subway Super Series game last Wednesday in Regina.
“You never want to make excuses but we had a tough week of travel the previous week,” he said.
“The guys were still feeling that bus trip (from the B.C. coast to Red Deer). It was an 18-hour day and then a few of our players went and played in the Super Series. So we had a few different situations last week that we had to deal with and I thought a couple of guys showed that fatigue in the game on Saturday.”
As a result, the Rebels didn’t return to practice until Tuesday.
“More than anything, the last couple of days have been about these guys catching up on their rest and getting a bit of a mental break,” said Wallin. “We’ll get our feet moving here again today and have a good week of practice and I fully expect that we’ll be loaded and ready to go again come Friday.”
There’s a strong possibility that overage defenceman Aaron Borejko — sidelined the last four games with an upper-body injury — will be back in Red Deer’s lineup on Friday when the Hurricanes visit the Centrium.
Borejko’s return would be especially timely after Dumba was assessed a one-game suspension by league disciplinarian Rick Doerksen on Tuesday. Dumba was punished for delivering a slash to Saskatoon forward Brent Benson at the conclusion of Saturday’s game.
Wallin discussed the situation with Doerksen before the verdict came down.
“It wasn’t a real severe two-hander and (Doerksen) agreed with that, but the feeling is that we can’t allow that to happen and I don’t disagree with that, so I think the suspension is fair,” said Wallin.
“The unfortunate part of it is that it was a very preventable thing. I felt that the officials have to be a bit accountable in that situation for not keeping players on the bench. But it is what it is and it’s an unfortunate thing, but it’s been dealt with and we’ll move forward.”
l The Rebels will entertain the Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday . . . Forward Joel Hamilton will be out of the Red Deer lineup another two weeks with a broken foot.