The Red Deer Rebels were all about perspiration and concentration in practice this week while atoning for the error of their ways in their last two games.
“We concentrated on a lot of small things, just making sure we get all of the details right in our systems,” assistant captain Joel Hamilton said Thursday. “We kind of got back to the basics so we can continue to progress and get better as a team.”
Following a 4-1 home-ice win over the defending Western Hockey League champion Edmonton Oil Kings Jan. 17, the Rebels were brutal in losing 3-1 to the visiting Prince George Cougars Saturday and then fell 3-0 to the host Medicine Hat Tigers a day later.
“Both games were games we could have won and probably should have won,” said Hamilton. “It just kind of came down to small mistakes that cost us and that’s what we’ve been working on all week.”
Small errors might have been to blame in Medicine Hat; an overall lack of effort, focus and execution was the glaring problem against the Cougars.
“It wasn’t a great performance by us,” Hamilton understated.
And therein is the source of frustration with the Rebels. The team has often shown well against the higher-calibre teams, but has dropped several games to teams lower in the standings.
“We’re still working on that, the consistency part of our game. Hopefully the hard work all through practice this week will help to make sure the consistency is always there the rest of the season,” said Hamilton. “We know we’re a good team and that we can play like a really good team. It’s just a matter of doing it every night.”
The Rebels have no reason to play with a lack of confidence, not with goaltender Patrik Bartosak in top form since returning from the world junior hockey championship.
“It’s always nice to have a guy back there who you know will shut the door for you,” said Hamilton. “Now it’s up to us to do our part at the other end of the ice.”
Rebels associate coach Jeff Truitt is hopeful that the detailed practice sessions all week will prove to be beneficial, starting with tonight’s meeting with the Brandon Wheat Kings and Saturday’s clash with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, both at the Centrium.
“The points that we’ve making the last three days here, both on the ice and on video . . . I hope the players have taken those to heart and we’ll see where it goes in the games,” said Truitt.
“But the practices have been intense while getting into the details of what we have to do in all of the zones. I’m sure that the guys are a little tired of it and want to get into game situations.”
The Rebels will host the Kootenay Ice next Thursday, then will play their next four games on the road. Included will be a three-game jaunt starting Feb. 6 and featuring stops in Prince George, Seattle and Kamloops.