PRINCE ALBERT — The Red Deer Rebels showed a lot of positive signs while winning the first two games of their WHL Eastern Conference quarter-final with the Prince Albert Raiders.
Now that the series is back in Prince Albert for Games 3 and 4 tonight and Wednesday at the Art Hauser Centre, will those positive signs have to be even more prevalent?
“The important thing is we have to have our emotion level where it needs to be to match and be better than the opposition,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said Monday, just prior to a practice session at the Art Hauser.
The Raiders were 20-10-3-3 on home ice during the regular season and defeated the visiting Rebels twice. However, the two victories over Red Deer were via overtime and a shootout.
“They (Raiders) are home now and they’re a confident team playing in this building, but it’s also a building we got two points out of this year. It’s not like we haven’t played well here,” said Sutter.
“In the playoffs, you have to win on the road and we’re going to have to get right after it right off the bat tomorrow. Our start will be huge for us. We have to be ready to play right from the get go. The biggest thing is just getting engaged both mentally and physical right away.”
The Rebels busted out of the gate in each of the first two games, scoring just 25 seconds into Game 1 and 2:35 into Game 2. Following the same game plan during the next two outings would be ideal.
“We have to build off of what we’ve done so far,” said Sutter. “We haven’t accomplished anything yet, but we have played well and now we have to continue to get better.
“It takes four games to win a series and we’re halfway home with that. There could be up to five more games to be played in this series and we just have to make sure we win two of them. But the focus now is just on Game 3. We have to come in here (tonight) and set our standards early. We have to make sure we’re playing the way we need to play and make sure we’re accountable within that standard.”
Unless the Rebels win the next two games to complete a series sweep, a fifth game will be played Friday at the Centrium. Additional games, if needed, are scheduled for Sunday in Prince Albert and next Tuesday at the Centrium.
l Vancouver Giants head coach Don Hay has been named bench boss of Canada’s national team for the world under-18 championship April 18-28 in Sochi, Russia.
Hockey Canada also announced that Jody Hull (Petrolia, Ont.), head coach of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes, and Yves Sarault (Valleyfield, Que.) have been named assistant coaches.
Hay just completed his ninth season as head coach of the Giants and 14th as a WHL head coach. He has won three Memorial Cups as a head coach — one with the Giants and two with the Kamloops Blazers — and has held the same position with the Calgary Flames and Phoenix Coyotes.
Hay won a gold medal as head coach with Canada’s national junior team in 1995 in Red Deer and a bronze medal as head coach of the 2012 national junior squad.