REGINA — The Red Deer Rebels were never behind the eight-ball.
Coincidentally, they chalked up their eighth successive Western Hockey League victory on Wednesday, skating past the Regina Pats 5-1 before 5,858 fans at the Brandt Centre.
Rhyse Dieno turned in a four-point performance as the Rebels played the role of party crashers on a night when the Pats retired the jersey of former Regina and current Edmonton Oilers star Jordan Eberle. The final score probably flattered the hosts, outshot 49-20.
“We stayed at it. We played a 60-minute game here tonight,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter.
The Rebels never trailed in the contest, taking an early lead on a goal by Tyson Ness and then breaking a 1-1 tie on Dieno’s third of the season at 11:59 of the second period.
Joel Hamilton notched a power-play marker just over three minutes later and Dieno, off a fine feed from Turner Elson, and Filip Vasko — in the final minute — rounded out the mini-romp with third-period goals. Vasko, acquired from the Kelowna Rockets last week, notched his fourth goal of the season and first as a Rebel.
Dieno, who assisted on the goals by Ness and Hamilton, upped his points total to 11 (4g,7a). Impressive, considering Wednesday’s outing was just his eighth of the season since being plucked out of the junior A Saskatchewan League in mid-November.
“He’s a skilled player. He loves to score and he gets himself into position to do that,” said Sutter. “He plays the game at a high tempo and he fits in well with how we want to play.”
Adam Rossignol potted Regina’s lone goal, allowing the Pats to get out of the opening period tied at one despite being outshot 18-4. Regina netminder Matt Hewitt did all he could for his team, stopping 44 shots.
Rebels goaltender Patrik Bartosak made 19 saves to post his 16th win of the season.
To say the Rebels are riding high at the moment would be an understatement and Sutter appreciates the manner in which his club is performing.
“Obviously winning builds confidence, but it’s the way you play, too,” said the Rebels bench boss. “We’re playing a real high-tempo game, a high-speed game.
“When you play that way you have to make plays at top speed and you have the puck a lot. Puck-possession time was huge for us here tonight.”
The Rebels will be gunning for their ninth win in a row when they face the Warriors on Friday at Moose Jaw. The team will close out its three-game East Division trip on Saturday against the Brandon Wheat Kings.
The Rebels have three home games on tap for next week, with the Calgary Hitmen, Victoria Royals and Kelowna Rockets at the Centrium on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.