Tigers 4 Rebels 1
The Red Deer Rebels were long on effort but short on manpower Saturday night at the Centrium.
Missing key forwards Adam Kambeitz and Daulton Siwak to injury and Turner Elson to a suspension and also minus the services of injured top-four defenceman Aaron Borejko to injury, the Rebels fell 4-1 to the Medicine Hat Tigers in a WHL encounter viewed by 5,047 fans.
The Rebels also lost rookie forward Joel Hamilton to an upper-body injury in the first period following a hit by Kale Kessy that netted the Tigers winger a checking-to-the-head major and game misconduct and will almost certainly result in a multi-game suspension.
“That’s a lot of important pieces missing,” Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin said Sunday. “But it’s one of those things that’s out of your control and all we can do is fight through it.
“It’s an opportunity for other guys to play and play in situations when they normally might not get that opportunity. We just have to work through it and find a way to get points in their absence.”
Kambeitz was injured during Friday’s home-ice loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes and will be lost to the club for four to six weeks, while Siwak, also hurt Friday, will be gone for at least one week.
It’s unlikely that neither Hamilton nor Borejko will be available for Tuesday’s game at Lethbridge or Wednesday’s contest against the visiting Spokane Chiefs, while the length of Elson’s suspension — he was ordered to miss Saturday’s game after being assessed a boarding minor in the late stages of the Friday loss to the ‘Canes — is expected to be finalized today.
After coming up lame Friday against the lowly ‘Canes, the Rebels looked like a more determined squad versus the Tiger despite falling short.
“Given the (manpower) situation, I thought we battled hard,” said Wallin, whose charges directed 16 shots at Tigers netminder Tyler Bunz in the third period but came up empty.
“We had our opportunities to score and couldn’t get anything by him. Meanwhile a couple of mistakes in the second period ended up in the back of our net and that was the difference in the game.”
Chad Robinson opened the scoring with a short-handed goal at 5:08 of the first period. James Bettauer replied with a power-play marker for the Tigers just over two minutes later and the visitors struck for back-to-back goals from Boston Leier and Jayden Hart (power play) in the first five minutes of the middle frame.
Red Deer carried the play in the final frame but Bunz shut the door and Emerson Etem added an empty-net goal in the dying seconds. Bunz finished with 29 saves, while Patrik Bartosak stopped 32 shots for the Rebels.
“We had a lot of young kids play a lot of minutes and we got good efforts from them,” said Wallin. “Plus, we had some other guys step up. Chad Robinson probably played his best game of the season after playing his worst game the night before.
“We’re having a tough stretch right now and are facing a bit of adversity, but you’re going to go through that over the course of a season and we have to handle it the right way.”