CALGARY — A four-pack of first-period penalties and a lack of emotion added up to a long night for the Red Deer Rebels Saturday at the Saddledome.
The Rebels were assessed all four minors called in the opening frame of the WHL contest and yet escaped with a 1-0 deficit despite being outshot 14-3. The visitors were still right there midway through the game, but Greg Chase potted a pair of goals just over three minutes apart and the Calgary Hitmen went on to post a 4-1 win in their home-opener viewed by 9,752 fans.
Rebels general manager/head coach Brent Sutter felt his club wasn’t competitive for most of the evening.
“We weren’t very good. We took some early penalties which kind of put us on our heels,” said Sutter. “They (Hitmen) gained momentum off of that and we never seemed to regroup.
“It was a night of a lot of mistakes and as the game went on our emotional level dropped off too, which wasn’t good. We didn’t give ourselves a chance to get two points. We just didn’t play well enough.”
Rookie defenceman Ben Thomas notched a power-play goal for the Hitmen midway through the first period and Rebels first-year forward Grayson Pawlenchuk answered with a man-advantage tally at 3:52 of the middle frame, finishing off a nifty three-way passing play that also involved Wyatt Johnson and Conner Bleackley.
Chase then connected at 10:59 and 14:15 and Pavel Padakin closed out the scoring for Calgary at 8:39 of the third period.
“Calgary played well. It was their home-opener and they got beat up in their first game up in Edmonton (7-3 Sept. 20),” said Sutter. “We knew all those things going in and that they’d be revved up. I was just disappointed in some of the individuals in our room. Their work ethic and their compete level were not when they needed to be.”
The Rebels directed a meagre 13 shots at Hitmen netminder Chris Driedger. Red Deer goaltender Patrik Bartosak faced 35 shots and while he held his squad in the game with 13 first-period saves, he didn’t earn high marks from Sutter.
“Patty made some saves but he let in some soft goals,” said the Rebels bench boss. “He wasn’t very good. You need better goaltending than that from your No. 1 guy.”
The Rebels had a practice scheduled for 10 a.m. today and were to leave for Saskatoon following the on-ice session.
Red Deer meets the host Blades Tuesday and are in Prince Albert Wednesday for a meeting with the Raiders. The Rebels close out their four-game East Division road trip with Friday and Saturday dates with the Moose Jaw Warriors and Brandon Wheat Kings.
l Sutter may be tempted to recall Meyer Nell from the midget AAA ranks after the 16-year-old forward fired three goals and added an assist for the Notre Dame Argos in a 5-3 win over the Notre Dame Hounds Saturday.
Nell played two preseason games with the Rebels before being reassigned to Notre Dame.