VICTORIA — The Red Deer Rebels didn’t follow up on Friday’s victory with another positive result 24 hours later, but they looked better in dropping a 3-1 Western Hockey League decision to the Victoria Royals.
“We liked the way we played last night,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said Sunday. “The difference was with the specialty teams. They got two power-play goals early in the game and we had some power plays in the second and didn’t generate anything off of them.”
Nevertheless . . .
“We talked to the players about it and it was agreed that it was probably our most complete game this season. We never won, but it was a good effort and we battled. As coaches, we can’t ask for more than that,” added the Rebels bench boss.
As Sutter noted, Austin Carroll and Logan Nelson staked the Royals to a 2-0 lead with a first-period power-play tallies in front of 4,003 fans at Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena. Tyler Soy upped the count to 3-0 at 14:25 of the second period and Cole Chorney accounted for the Rebels’ lone goal — his first of the season — at the 19-minute mark of the period with Carroll serving a tripping penalty.
The clubs battled through a scoreless third period in which the Royals held a 15-12 edge in shots. Patrik Polivka made 27 saves for the win, while Rebels netminder Patrik Bartosak stopped 32 shots.
Bartosak was the difference in the Rebels’ 2-1 win Friday, coming up with 42 saves as the visitors were outshot 43-18 by the Royals.
“The night before we stole a game and that happens. You’re going to steal the odd game and have some stolen from you as well,” said Sutter. “We had a lot of individuals who were better Saturday and our team play was much better.
“We played a team last night who have some really good experienced players. I was happy with our game and how we played and how we battled. We didn’t generate much offence in the first period but got going in the second and in the third we generated some good scoring chances.”
The Rebels take on the Kamloops Blazers Tuesday in the third game of their six-game road trip. Red Deer closes out the jaunt with a Wednesday meeting with the Kelowna Rockets and Friday and Saturday games versus the Kootenay Ice and Lethbridge Hurricanes.
l Defenceman Matt Dumba was a healthy scratch for the Minnesota Wild Sunday against the New Jersey Devils. Dumba has played in nine NHL games this season and one more appearance will start the clock ticking on the first year of his three-year entry-level contract.
If Dumba, 19, plays in a 10th game, he’s unlikely to return to the Rebels any time soon, if at all.
l Regina Pats prize prospect Sam Steel scored a goal and added an assist as Team Alberta downed Team British Columbia 4-2 in Sunday’s final of the Western Canada Under-16 Challenge Cup in Calgary.
The Rebels had two prospects playing in the tournament — Alberta defenceman Josh Mahura, selected in the second round of the 2013 bantam draft, and Saskatchewan netminder Colby Entz, a list player. Mahura was pointless with two minutes in penalties in four games, while Entz was the better of the two Saskatchewan goaltenders, posting a 4.71 goals-against average and .862 save percentage in 115 minutes played.
Defenceman TJ Brown and forward Tyler Steenbergen of the midget AAA Red Deer Optimist Rebels played key roles with Team Alberta.
Manitoba bombed Saskatchewan 10-3 in the bronze medal game.