Rebels 3 Ice 2
CRANBROOK — Relax and have fun.
That might not have been the exact message Red Deer Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin extended to his troops prior to Sunday’s WHL meeting with the host Kootenay Ice, but the suggestion was in there somewhere.
“I really liked the guys’ effort tonight, we were just in the right frame of mind,” said Wallin, following a 3-2, come-from-behind win over the Ice before 2,116 fans at Western Financial Place.
“We came out hard and had a real good start to the game, then got back on our heels a bit when they turned the tide on us and came hard over the second half of the first period. But we did a good job of weathering the storm. We regrouped during the intermission and I thought we came out and played well in the second period. Overall, we played two real good periods of hockey.”
The Ice led 1-0 after one period on a goal by rookie Collin Shirley and doubled the margin when another first-year player, Jaedon Descheneau, connected just 2:11 into the second frame following a Rebels’ failed chance at the other end. The goal was somwhat of a fluke, as Wallin explained.
“It was a bit of a tough break. They came down with a shot on a dump-in and it hit our d-man’s stick and changed directions,” said the Rebels bench boss. “But I really liked the way we responded. We just stuck with it and the guys kept pushing and we got that next goal. We played very well over the last second half of the game.”
Defenceman Kevin Pochuk got the Rebels on the board at 3:57 of the second period and Charles Inglis potted a power-play marker 10 minutes later. Inglis then notched the winner with his ninth of the season — again on the power play — at 14:16 of the third period.
“We just relaxed and went out and played tonight,” said Wallin, who was in a different mood following his clubs’ 2-1 overtime loss to the Ice on Friday.
“Looking back at that game at home, I think we were really uptight,” he said. “We were just afraid of making mistakes and we were gripping our sticks. We had to relax and I thought we did that tonight.
“We allowed ourselves to play with a lot more fluidity. We made some real good plays on our breakouts. We got better as the game went on and in the third (period) we controlled the play in the offensive zone.”
The Rebels were two-for-two on the power play as well as the penalty kill.
“Our penalty kill did a real good job, including a couple of big kills in the third period,” said Sutter. “We had a couple of key kills by executing the details and we capitalized on the power play.”
Patrik Bartosak, named first star of the game, made 32 saves for the Rebels, while Kootenay netminder Wyatt Hoflin stopped 28 shots.
“Patty was solid when we needed him to be,” said Wallin. “That’s what you need from your goalie, on the road and at home.”
The Rebels return to action on Tuesday against the visiting Regina Pats. Game time is 7 p.m.