SASKATOON — With a little sweat and a whole lot of Patrik Bartosak, the Red Deer Rebels reeled in two points Friday night at the Credit Union Centre.
The Rebels were the harder working team through the first two periods of the nationally-televised (Sportsnet) contest and got an outstanding netminding performance from Bartosak in a 3-1 Western Hockey League win over the Saskatoon Blades.
“We worked hard. The guys played determined and deserved the win,” said Sutter. “And it was a big win.”
Indeed it was, considering the Rebels had won just one of their previous seven outings and entered the contest in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, but just two points up on Lethbridge and seven clear of Swift Current and Saskatoon.
Red Deer opened the scoring when Dominik Volek buried a rebound of a Joel Hamilton shot 5:28 into the contest.
Rhyse Dieno upped the count to 2-0 midway through the second period — pouncing on a turnover and beating Blades netminder Andrey Makarov with a high wrister from the slot — and captain Turner Elson slipped a weak backhand past Makarov just over a minute later.
Blades defenceman and Red Deer product Graeme Craig got the home side on the board late in the middle frame, his shot from just inside the point eluding a screened Bartosak.
Outshot 26-21 through the first 40 minutes, the Blades carried the play in the final frame. But Bartosak stopped all 17 shots he faced in the period and made brilliant saves on labelled shots from Josh Nicholls and Matej Stransky.
“Patty was outstanding, he made some big saves down the stretch,” said Sutter, who noted the Rebels approached the game like they were starting a new season.
“That’s the way we went into the game. It was like the first game of a new season. The trade deadline has passed and this is the team we’re moving forward with,” Sutter continued.
Sutter inserted new forward Hunter Smith into the lineup, but the 17-year-old, who was listed earlier this week, got only a few shifts. Affiliate forward Vukie Mpofu of the Saskatoon Contacts, who is currently second in Saskatchewan Midget AAA League scoring, was more extensively used in front of his family and friends.
The Rebels conclude their three-game road trip tonight against the Prince Albert Raiders.
l Sutter came up empty at Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, but listed overage 20-year-old forward Jordan DePape later in the day.
DePape left the Kamloops Blazers in mid-November to undergo surgery on his right shoulder a week later in his hometown of Winnipeg. It was originally thought that the surgery would spell the end of his season, but he has since learned that he should be able to return to action in mid-March.
DePape missed most of the 2011-12 season following surgery on his left shoulder. He scored six goals and recorded 14 points in 14 regular-season games and returned for the playoffs and put up 13 points (7g,6a) in 11 games.
He joined the Blazers in 2009 and in 120 regular-season outings had 44 goals and 54 assists for 98 points.
“He’s pretty excited about joining our team,” Sutter said Friday.
“He’s supposed to be able to play by March 15, but it may be sooner. His recovery will determine that.
“We thought it was worth listing him. He’s a heck of a player. We’ll bring him into Red Deer in February and oversee his physiotherapy and get him ready to play. The kid is still hoping he can play junior this year and he wants to play pro next season if he can.”
Earlier Thursday, the six-foot, 194-pound winger’s junior A rights were traded to the Dauphin Kings by the Virden Oil Capitals in a Manitoba Junior League deal.