EVERETT, Wash. — Just 24 hours after playing the role of bystanders, the Red Deer Rebels decided to take matters into their own hands on Wednesday before 3,291 fans at Comcast Arena.
The Rebels carried the play from the outset in a 4-2 Western Hockey League win over the Everett Silvertips, a far cry from their performance in Tuesday’s 5-1 loss at Portland.
“Our compete level was much better tonight,” said Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin. “We were much more aggressive and getting the first goal was big. Playing with a lead made a big difference.”
Indeed, the Rebels not only struck first — with Mathew Dumba pulling the trigger at at 15:28 of the first period — but also grabbed a 2-0 lead when Tyson Ness connected at 19:46.
“We came out and established our forecheck and were a physical presence all over the ice,” said Wallin. “We played with a lot of energy.”
The Silvertips pulled to within one when Tyler Sandhu scored at 1:36 of the second period, but Rebels rookie Conner Bleackley replied with his second of the season – on the power play – seven minutes later.
Everett again got to within one when Landon Oslanski scored midway through the second period and the outcome hung in the balance until Cody Thiel potted Red Deer’s fourth goal of the evening 5:26 into the final frame.
“We talked about how we had to be a lot better than last night, how it was important to be better,” said Wallin. “The guys really responded well.
“Last night we allowed ourselves to be in awe of Portland a bit, they’re the best team we’ve seen so far this year. We allowed them to come at us. But we initiated the play tonight, we got on them early and carried the play. I thought we intiiated a lot of the physical play.”
Patrik Bartosak made 27 saves for the Rebels, while the Silvertips got a 25-stop outing from Daniel Cotton. Red Deer scored on their only power-play chance, while the ‘Tips were zero-for-four.
The Rebels conclude their five-game road trip on Friday against the Kelowna Rockets. Red Deer’s next home game is Nov. 17 versus the Swift Current Broncos.