Rebels win ugly

There was nothing pretty about the Red Deer Rebels’ 3-2 win over the Chilliwack Bruins on Saturday night at the Centrium.

Red Deer Rebel Nathan Green and Chilliwack Bruin Brandon Manning fight for the puck Saturday at the Centrium. Red Deer won 3-2.

Rebels 3 Bruins 2

There was nothing pretty about the Red Deer Rebels’ 3-2 win over the Chilliwack Bruins on Saturday night at the Centrium.

But then, no one ever asks how you won, just if you won.

The Rebels were out-hustled through large portions of the evening, but got a second consecutive standout performance from Darcy Kuemper and a pair of goals from Brett Ferguson to win their third consecutive game and improve their Western Hockey League record to a break-even 6-6-0-0.

“There was a little scare there, but we came out with two points and that’s what it’s all about,” said Ferguson, after potting his fifth and sixth markers of the season to give the Rebels a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.

“Tonight we got the lead and thought we had it in the bag. Last night (in a well-deserved 6-2 win over visiting Portland) we just kept playing our game. The best defence is when you’re playing in the other team’s end and we didn’t do that tonight. But we got the win.”

Ferguson potted a power-play goal 9:36 into the game, and then banked a centering pass off Bruins rookie defenceman and Red Deer product Mitch Topping and past netminder Mark Friesen with 24 seconds remaining in the period.

Defenceman Simon Witt upped the count to 3-0 at 7:37 of the second period with a point shot that found the top of the net, and the Rebels appeared to be in good shape. But Colton Grant notched a power-play goal for the visitors late in the frame and the tide started to turn.

Roman Horak took a stretch pass from Blair Manning and beat Kuemper on a breakaway just 4:20 into the third period, but despite outshooting their hosts 10-7 over the final 20 minutes, the Bruins couldn’t muster another goal.

“It was a big weekend for us as far as getting two wins. We managed to claw our way back to .500 tonight, but it wasn’t anywhere near the game we wanted to play,” said Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin. “But sometimes you have to win ugly and we found a way to do that tonight.”

The Rebels bench boss gave the Bruins plenty of credit, but admitted that his team was too passive and mistake-prone.

“They’re a very hard-working hockey team,” said Wallin. “They’re very solid defensively. It was tough to get much going against them, but having said that, I thought we really made it hard on ourselves.

“We didn’t manage the puck very well. We tried to be way too cute through the neutral zone, trying to beat guys one on one and trying to force pucks into the middle of the ice. We wanted to get after them early and really establish our forecheck and play in the offensive zone, and we didn’t establish that with any consistency. Again, we made it harder on ourselves that it had to be, but fortunately we were able to capitalize on a couple of opportunities and give ourselves some breathing room.”

And fortunately for the Rebels, Kuemper was once again sharp.

“‘Kuemps’ built off of last night and had a solid game. He had a real good weekend here,” said Wallin. “His compete level has risen of late and he has that attitude back where’s he’s going to fight for every puck and he’s determined to keep that thing out of the net.”

The Rebels return to action on Tuesday, when the Calgary Hitmen visit the Centrium for a 7 p.m. start.

gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com

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