Sutter left feeling good after Memorial Cup

It was Western Hockey League brand hockey at its finest. A tough, tight-checking and hard hitting game. The Brandon Wheat King struck first in the second period, but the Red Deer Rebels tied it up with 5:05 to play in regulation.

It was Western Hockey League brand hockey at its finest.

A tough, tight-checking and hard hitting game. The Brandon Wheat King struck first in the second period, but the Red Deer Rebels tied it up with 5:05 to play in regulation.

The tie sent the game into overtime. At 3:50, the Centrium erupted in celebration. Almost all of the 7,327 leapt to their feet as Rebels forward Evan Polei took a one-time pass from Conner Bleackley and scored the game winning goal.

That was the high point for the Rebels at the Memorial Cup, eliminating a league rival from the tournament and a team that had bounced them from the playoffs a month before.

It was also a low point for the Western Hockey League champions who came into the tournament with high expectations, only to be swept out on the heels of three straight round robin losses.

Two nights later, the Rebels tournament ended.

“We played hard, but we ran into a hot goalie in the semifinals,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “They got through us because of him and he gave them a chance against London. That’s what goaltending does.”

The Rebels lost 3-1 to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the semifinal. Red Deer outshot the Huskies 37-27 in the game. The Huskies then lost in the final to the Ontario Hockey League and Memorial Cup champion London Knights.

But outside of the hockey, Sutter reflected on the success of the tournament in Red Deer.

“It will be a long time until you see hockey played at this level,” he said. “The last time was the World Juniors in 1995.

“The event was over and beyond what I thought it could be. Merrick (Sutter) and Ron LaRiviere (organizing committee co-chairs) did a great job overseeing it all.”

More than 500 volunteers helped out with the event. Total attendance for the eight games was 58,750 people.

“It’s something everybody can be very proud of,” said Sutter. “Here we are, a week later running prospects camp and getting ready for next season.”

Less than a week after the tournament ended, the Rebels held their annual prospects camp featuring 27 young players.

The Memorial Cup was about more than just the action at the rink as the trophy toured schools, legions throughout Central Alberta and even arrived in Red Deer via a helicopter.

Sutter said an event like this can get lost in larger communities, but truly has a home in some of junior hockey’s smaller communities.

“In Red Deer, for 10 days, it was the event. It didn’t matter where you were going,” he said. “People came from all over Canada, North America and the world.

Just Posted

Woman killed in collision west of Rocky Mountain House

A 42-year-old woman is dead after a two-vehicle collision in Clearwater County… Continue reading

Rough camper “tree house” found hidden in Red Deer woods

“This took a bit of work,” says man who discovered it

Central Alberta has one less peacekeeper with death of Nobel Prize-winning vet

The late Wayne Coubrough and Wayne Bevis helped diffuse tensions in the Middle East

TC Energy applauds Nebraska court victory over opponents of Keystone XL pipeline

CALGARY — One of the last major hurdles for the Keystone XL… Continue reading

Tribunal rules Edmonton pharmacist harmed integrity of profession

EDMONTON — An Edmonton pharmacist has been found guilty of unprofessional conduct… Continue reading

WATCH: Trailer stolen from Red Deer deli

A Red Deer business has contacted police after a trailer was stolen… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Thursday The Red Deer and District Garden Club hosts its annual Flower… Continue reading

Alberta loses extra-innings thriller at men’s baseball nationals

Alberta came up just short in their second game at the Baseball… Continue reading

G7 leaders should step up own climate plans to help the Amazon, Greenpeace says

OTTAWA — Some Canadian environment groups are urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau… Continue reading

Third-party buys billboard to promote Bernier’s anti-mass immigration stance

OTTAWA — Billboards with Maxime Bernier’s face and a slogan advocating against… Continue reading

Ottawa ready to pass law forcing CN to restore rusting Quebec Bridge

Ottawa says its ready to take ownership of the aging Quebec Bridge… Continue reading

TC Energy applauds Nebraska court victory over opponents of Keystone XL pipeline

CALGARY — One of the last major hurdles for the Keystone XL… Continue reading

‘Our bigger enemy’: Trump escalates attack on Fed chief

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump launched a furious and highly personal attack… Continue reading

Ontario shipyard accuses feds of unfairly stacking deck in Davie’s favour

OTTAWA — An Ontario shipyard is accusing the federal government of trying… Continue reading

Most Read