Rebels roll to win over Tigers

The Red Deer Rebels will have a merry Christmas after all. The Rebels, without four of their top six scorers, entered Tuesday’s WHL meeting with the Medicine Hat Tigers as decided underdogs. But a hot goaltender and a dogged work ethic will often work wonders, and the Rebels had both while upending the visitors 5-2 before 4,150 fans at the Enmax Centrium.

The Red Deer Rebels will have a merry Christmas after all.

The Rebels, without four of their top six scorers, entered Tuesday’s WHL meeting with the Medicine Hat Tigers as decided underdogs. But a hot goaltender and a dogged work ethic will often work wonders, and the Rebels had both while upending the visitors 5-2 before 4,150 fans at the Enmax Centrium.

“Patty stood strong for us again tonight and helped us weather the storm with a very young lineup,” said Rebels associate coach Jeff Truitt, in reference to netminder Patrik Bartosak and his 46-save performance.

“Some of our guys haven’t played together an awful lot and they did a great job while playing quality minutes. This is a great Medicine Hat team, but we were pretty opportunistic with our scoring and got the two points.”

The Tigers assumed their only lead of the evening when Curtis Valk broke a scoreless tie with a power-play goal 1:33 into the second period, his wrist shot from the right circle ringing of the far post and in.

Lukas Sutter, with his first of two goals on the evening, pulled Red Deer even with a man-advantage marker just under six minutes later.

Captain Conner Bleackley raced down the right side, cut around a defender and fed Sutter with a centering pass that he deflected past goaltender Daniel Wapple.

“Conner did a great job of taking the puck wide and all I had to do was get to the net with my stick on the ice. Those are easy goals,” said Sutter.

The Rebels netted two more before the period concluded as Adam Musil connected with a one-timer from the high slot at 15:42, and Sutter took a feed from Wyatt Johnson, used a Tigers defenceman as a screen and fired a 40-footer by Wapple three minutes later.

“It was a great play by Johny, coming across the ice to me,” said Sutter. “I got a step inside on their defenceman, let go with a quick shot and somehow it got through. It was nice to get those two and get on a bit of a streak and hopefully we can keep it going after the break.”

Added Truitt: “Lukas has played really well, I can’t say enough about him. The last three games have been really good for him. He’s been consistent, he’s been detailed and he’s been winning a lot of battles. It was nice to see him get a couple of goals tonight.”

The Rebels upped the count to 4-1 early in the final frame after Wapple was gently bumped by Rebels forward Evan Polei at the side of the net. Instead of getting back into position, he attempted to embellish the slight collision and watched as Bleackley, from along the boards, fired the puck into a gaping cage.

The Tigers got one back midway through the period on Tommy Vannelli’s screened point shot that eluded Bartosak with Red Deer defenceman Nick Charif off for tripping. But that was it for the visitors, who gave up an empty-net marker to Johnson, who created a turnover at the Tigers blueline in the final minute and notched his seventh of the season.

“With a depleted lineup it was good to see the younger guys step up and play the way they did. They were eating some big minutes,” said Sutter, in reference to the likes of Musil, Meyer Nell, Polei and Cole Chorney.

“We gave up quite a few chances but Patty was very good and that’s what you expect from a 20-year-old goalie. We all contributed as a group and it was a big win for us, for sure.”

The Rebels, who were minus the services of forwards Dominik Volek, who is with the Czech Republic team preparing for the World Junior Championship, as well as Rhyse Dieno, Matt Bellerive and Brooks Maxwell, all out with injuries, will return to action Dec. 27 against the visiting Calgary Hitmen.

“We want the guys to enjoy the break and enjoy their families, then get channelled and be ready to go in another 10 days,” said Truitt. “It’s nice that we’ve been able to get on a bit of roll here with three straight wins, but there’s a bigger prize to be had. We have a tough schedule right off the bat after the break against divisional rivals (including a Dec. 29 game at Edmonton) and we have to be ready.”

“Obviously it’s nice to go into the break with a three-game win streak and we’re happy with that,” said Sutter. “We’re looking forward to enjoying some down time, but we’re really anxious to get back and keep rolling.”

• The Rebels also lost forward Vukie Mpofu prior to the game. The 17-year-old rookie suffered an injury in practice Monday and reaggravated it in the warm-up . . . Rebels prospect Brayden Burke, 16, played his first ever WHL regular-season game and didn’t look out of place . . . Wapple finished with 25 saves. . . . With Prince Albert losing 4-3 at home to the Moose Jaw Warriors, the Rebels moved into an eighth-place tie with the Raiders in the Eastern Conference.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Alberta vaccine rollout expanding to front-line health-care workers

More than 240,000 eligible health-care workers can begin booking vaccine appointments starting… Continue reading

File photo
The Red Deer Rebels will have three new assistant coaches when the WHL regular season starts on Friday. Brad Flynn (left), will be on the bench alongside fellow assistant Ryan Colville (right) head coach Brent Sutter (middle). (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Sutter steps down as Red Deer Rebels head coach

Red Deer Rebels Owner, GM and head coach Brent Sutter has stepped… Continue reading

Premier Jason Kenney announced $200 million more money that will benefit seniors living in continuing care on Wednesday. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program expanding

Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program will expand to as many as… Continue reading

Parents and students learned Tuesday what the coming school year will look like. It's pretty much back to business as usual, said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. School precautions include frequent cleaning, keeping students in the same groups where possible, planning the school day to allow for physical distancing and staying home when sick. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s largest school board says no to United Conservative draft school curriculum

CALGARY — Alberta’s largest school board says it will not use the… Continue reading

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan is among those who have signed an open letter criticizing the government’s return to stricter health measures. (Advocate file photo).
Updated: Kenney tells UCP caucus COVID-19 dissent OK, breaking health rules means expulsion

15 MLAs released letter on Wednesday critical of new health restrictions

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau watches a speaker appear by videoconference during a news conference in Ottawa, Friday, April 9, 2021. Grassroots Liberals have overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution calling on the federal government to develop and implement a universal basic income — despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's apparent lack of enthusiasm for the idea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau winds up Liberal convention with election campaign-style speech

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau wound up a three-day Liberal convention Saturday with… Continue reading

Team Canada skip Brendan Bottcher makes a shot against Italy at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, April 6, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Men’s world curling championship in Calgary in COVID limbo

CALGARY — The men’s world curling championship in Calgary remained suspended Saturday… Continue reading

Pipes intended for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline are shown in Gascoyne, N.D. on Wednesday April 22, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Panetta
Non-profit Quebec law centre to aid environmental group targeted by Alberta oil firm

QUEBEC — The Quebec Environmental Law Centre is coming to the aid… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservatives cite empathy, relationships as ways to help expand their movement

OTTAWA — Conservatives should show empathy with Black residents who say they’ve… Continue reading

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. New Democrats are reconvening for the second day of a three-day policy convention as they look to push past the glitches of the virtual event's opening sessions and rally around keynote speaker John Horgan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
New Democrats reconvene as hiccups, frustrations plague national policy convention

OTTAWA — New Democrats reconvened Saturday for the second day of a… Continue reading

FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 23, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a joint statement with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Former President Donald Trump plans to affirm his commitment to the Republican Party — and raise the possibility that someone else will be the GOP's next presidential nominee — in a closed-door speech to donors Saturday night, April 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Trump in 2024? He says only that ‘a Republican’ will win

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Former President Donald Trump plans to affirm his… Continue reading

A cruise ship sits docked waiting for passengers to be evacuated in Kingstown, on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent, Friday, April 9, 2021 due to the eruption of La Soufriere volcano. (AP Photo/Orvil Samuel)
Ash-covered St. Vincent braces for more volcanic eruptions

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — People who ignored an initial warning to evacuate… Continue reading

Owner of 4 Point Taekwondo Kevin Mejia holds a board as organizer and martial artist Kevin Olsen breaks it in Edmonton on Friday, April 9, 2021. One hundred martial artists from around the world, will be breaking a board for an event called "Break for a Breakthrough." The idea is for martial artists to unite and re-engage with the arts because they may have drifted away or lost enthusiasm as a result of the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Break for a Breakthrough: Canadian hosts international martial arts demonstration

EDMONTON — Whether he’s breaking a wooden board, a clay tile, cement… Continue reading

Most Read