BRANDON — The Red Deer Rebels played with energy but were firing blanks before 2,904 fans Sunday afternoon at Westman Place.
The visitors directed 23 shots at Wheat Kings netminder Jordan Papirny without once finding the back of the net. The hosts, meanwhile, managed 22 shots at Rebels goaltender Rylan Toth and got the only goal they needed midway through the first period — a power-play tally from John Quenneville — in a 4-0 Western Hockey League victory.
“We had some chances, but overall we just didn’t create enough offence,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, whose team prevailed 4-1 at Moose Jaw the night before.
“We worked and competed today, it was just one of those days,” said Sutter.
“You get in here at 4 in the morning and you’re playing 12 hours later. And they (Wheat Kings) are sitting here waiting for you.
“We played hard and competed, we just made a couple of mistakes that cost us and we needed a couple of saves at certain times. That’s just the way it is some days.”
Reid Duke followed Quenneville’s game-opening goal with an early second-period tally and Tim McGauley connected 42 seconds apart late in the third period. McGauley’s second goal was a short-handed tally.
The Wheat Kings were one-for-five on the power play, while the Rebels were zero-for-six with a man advantage.
“Our power play hasn’t been very good the last couple of games,” said Sutter, whose club was zero-for-three in Saturday’s victory at Moose Jaw. “We have to get it back going. We need it to be producing for us.”
Rebels 4 Warriors 1
The Rebels scored a pair of first-period goals and never looked back in front of 3,389 fans at Mosaic Place Saturday.
“We had a real good start to our game, a good first period,” said Sutter, in reference to unanswered goals from Meyer Nell and Riley Sheen.
Defenceman Brett Cote upped the count to 3-0 with a goal in the final minute of the second period. Warriors rearguard Dustin Perillat notched a power-play marker 50 seconds into the third period to give the hosts some hope, but Rebels forward Evan Polei scored into an empty net with 1:45 remaining to seal the deal.
“We got off our game a bit in the second period but then we got back to playing like we can in the third and didn’t give up much,” said Sutter.
Toth made 21 saves while posting his 17th victory of the season. Moose Jaw netminder Zach Sawchenko turned aside 17 shots.
Warriors head coach Tim Hunter wasn’t impressed with his team’s work ethic.
“We didn’t have enough guys who were willing to compete and work hard,” Hunter told Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times Herald. “Talk all you want about Xs and Os, but it boils down to that purely in this game — compete and work.”
Hunter knew the Rebels would be toting their lunch buckets.
“(Red Deer) is the second team I’ve seen this year that works hard and competes hard every shift. It’s really funny, they’re the second team where their coach is also their manager and owner, that does that,” Hunter said in reference to the Rebels and Kelly McCrimmon’s Brandon Wheat Kings. “I told them ‘I’m not the manager or the owner, I’m just the coach. You guys compete and work hard for each other — not for me. If you do that to start the game we’ll be fine.’”
The .500 road trip allowed the Rebels to move five points up on the fourth-place Edmonton Oil Kings in the Central Division. Red Deer trails the second-place Calgary Hitmen by a single point.
The Rebels host the Kelowna Rockets Wednesday in their final game prior to the Christmas break.