Rebels 3 Warriors 2
The old rope-a-dope worked again.
And this time it was an extreme example.
Outshot 41-16 and outplayed basically from start to finish, the Red Deer Rebels snuck past the Moose Jaw Warriors 3-2 Friday in a Western Hockey League contest played before a recorded gathering of 4,753 at the Centrium.
Pretty, it was not.
The Rebels, who pulled out a 4-2 win over the Kamloops Blazers two nights earlier despite not being the better team, received a 39-save performance from netminder Patrik Bartosak and got the winning goal from Turner Elson at 11:42 of the third period.
“I had a lot of speed coming down on their guy (Warriors defenceman Dallas Erhardt),” said Elson, who took a pass from Colten Mayor while breaking down the right side.
“I thought their guys was slow so I just started wheeling past him and got a shot off.”
Netminder Luke Siemens made the initial save as Elson attempted to cut to the front of the net, but the Red Deer forward cashed the rebound.
“I was happy with the goal, but not with our effort tonight,” said Elson. “Obviously it wasn’t our best. We got outshot badly, we didn’t win many battles and we just got outworked badly.
“That’s not who we are. We don’t have the best skill in the league but we’re a hard-working team and we don’t like to get outworked like that.
“It wasn’t fun.”
Thanks to Bartosak, the game was scoreless after 20 minutes despite the 16-3 advantage in shots for the visitors.
Tyson Ness gave the Rebels a 1-0 lead 7:43 into the second period when he beat Siemens with a backhand after Mayor created a turnover inside the Moose Jaw blueline.
Warriors defenceman Dylan McIlrath pulled the visitors even late in the middle frame, scoring from a goalmouth scramble.
While the second period was relatively even with the Warriors holding an 9-6 edge in shots, the final frame was again tilted in Moose Jaw’s favour as the Rebels were outshot 16-7.
“I don’t think it was so much an effort issue as it was an execution issue,” said Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin. “We were really sloppy from start to finish, from the opening shift pretty much right through.
“There were a few shifts where we were a bit better but almost throughout the game we didn’t sustain any puck movement and that to me is a focus issue. We just made some very poor decisions and we were casual getting back to pucks.
“Execution comes from bearing down. You’d need two hands to count how many pucks we missed. Pucks were going through guys sticks while we were trying to make 30-foot passes through two guys. Our execution was very poor tonight and that needs to be better.”
But still, the Rebels found a way, although there were some jagged nerves late in the contest.
After Daulton Siwak scored what appeared to be an insurance goal at 18:36 with the Rebels on the power play, Warriors rearguard Morgan Rielly replied with a short-handed tally 18 seconds later.
But in the end the Rebels emerged with the two points, thanks in a large part to Bartosak.
“Moose Jaw was a hungry team. They forechecked hard and they played a solid game,” said Wallin. “They took advantage of some of our turnovers and fortunately Patty was very good for us.
“Quite frankly he was the only reason we won. He should have been first, second and third star.”
The Rebels host the Portland Winterhawks tonight at 7:30 p.m.