Rebels 6 Tigers 3
MEDICINE HAT — The Medicine Hat Tigers have been the Red Deer Rebels’ nemesis in recent times, with netminder Tyler Bunz and sniper Emerson Etem being two of the biggest villains.
The Rebels couldn’t hold Etem down Tuesday at the Arena, as the future Anaheim Duck recorded a hat trick to give him a WHL-leading 47 goals on the season. But the visitors beat Bunz like a borrowed burro, putting five pucks past the Tigers star stopper en route to a convincing 6-3 win.
“We usually do a good job of creating opportunities against these guys, but we really did a good job of bearing down tonight and capitalizing on them,” said Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin. “It was nice to finally get rewarded. We scored some goals that we deserved to score and that was the difference.”
The visitors fired 42 shots at Bunz, but — uncharacteristically — the Edmonton Oilers prospect didn’t have all the answers on this night. Tyson Ness and Charles Inglis led the Rebels with two goals apiece and Deven Dubyk made 24 saves as Red Deer pulled to within two points of eighth-place Brandon in the Eastern Conference.
Red Deer never trailed in the contest. Ness tallied twice to give the Rebels a 2-1 lead after one period and Charles Inglis answered Etem’s second goal of the night — a short-handed tally just 57 seconds into the second period — with a pair of his own in the final seven minutes of the middle frame. Inglis snapped a 2-2 tie directly off a faceoff and then took advantage of a turnover to make it 4-2 after 40 minutes.
“Ness and Inglis capitalized on their chances and Elson’s goal was a big one, too,” said Wallin, referring to Turner Elson’s short-handed marker at 14:10 of the third period that gave Red Deer a three-goal cushion.
Etem fired his third of the evening — on the power play — at 17:43, but with Bunz on the bench in favour of an extra attacker, Rebels forward John Persson was hauled down on a breakaway and was automatically awarded an empty-net goal 70 seconds later.
“I thought we played well in all aspects of the game,” said Wallin. “We didn’t give them a whole lot. We limited their opportunities. Overall, we just got a real solid effort from everyone in the lineup.”
Included in the Red Deer lineup were midget AAA defencemen Haydn Fleury and Kevin Pochuk, who were summoned from the Notre Dame Argos and Winnipeg Wild, respectively, due to the Rebels’ injury woes and the fact that Matt Dumba was competing in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game skills competition in Kelowna.
“All of our defencemen played well,” said Wallin. “(Stephen) Hak and (Cody) Thiel really stepped up and played a ton of minutes. Hakker played a lot against Etem’s line and did a great job of playing physical against him, defending well and also moving the puck well.
“As for the two young pups, Fleury and Pochuk, they played a fair bit for young guys and did a good job for us. They weren’t out of place although it was certainly a pace adjustment for them, especially playing here. Medicine Hat is a fast team and games always seem to go real quick in this building. But they handled the pace well and kept it simple.”
Notes: Dumba’s volley was clocked at 91.8 mph in the hardest shot event of the Top Prospects skills competition Tuesday. Nick Ebert of the Windsor Spitfires was first at 94.7 mph, edging Everett Silvertips defenceman Ryan Murray (94.3). The Top Prospects Game is tonight (8 p.m. MST, Rogers Sportsnet) . . . The Rebels return to action Friday at Edmonton versus the Oil Kings, then host the Calgary Hitmen Saturday at 7:30 p.m.