Rebels 2 Oil Kings 0
Kraymer Barnstable wasn’t thinking about Christmas when he drew the starting assignment for the Red Deer Rebels against the Edmonton Oil Kings Saturday.
But the 19-year-old netminder from Kelowna gave himself, his teammates and the 4,698 fans on hand Saturday the best gift of all, a 2-0 shutout that left the Western Hockey League squad with a 18-15-0-2 record heading into the Christmas break.
“It was a great way to go into the break,” said Barnstable, who finished with 24 saves and recorded the first shutout of the season for the Rebels.
“The team did a great job. The ‘D’ kept everything to the outside and let me see the puck and the forwards got the puck in deep . . . just a great team effort.”
Barnstable isn’t the smoothest goaltender in the league, but he never gives up on a play.
“I pride myself in my work ethic and while I’m not the most technical goaltender in the league I battle for everything and I hate to be scored on,” he said.
He certainly impressed Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin.
“Barney was solid . . . he hadn’t played in 11 games, which was just the way it worked out, but he stepped in and played well.”
Barnstable, who has a 6-1-0 record, would like to play more, but he knows how to keep himself ready when he’s called on.
“The last couple of years were good for me in Vancouver as I didn’t play much and I learned how to be ready when called upon,” said Barnstable. “They told me to make my practices my games and so every practice I worked as if I was in a game and that’s the same way here.”
Barnstable did get the a break or two in the first period when the Oil Kings hit the post three times, but he still finished with 10 saves in the opening frame.
The second and third periods were controlled by the Rebels despite missing four of their top forwards — Landon Ferraro, Andrej Kudrna, Nathan Green and Josh Cowen.
Rookie forward John Persson and rearguard Nick Bell are also missing.
“There are times when a team is missing that number of guys the rest of the team goes in the bag and gives games away but we pulled together and played with a lot of pride,” said Barnstable. “We stuck to our systems, which was a key. We also did a good job of getting on their defence and hit them all night and wore them down.”
The second Red Deer goal by Turner Elson at 12:33 of the second period was a good indication of that.
The Rebels did a tremendous job of forechecking for a good minute and eventually got the opening they needed when Elson grabbed his own rebound off an Edmonton defender and whipped a shot high top corner.
The Rebels opened the scoring at 2:54 of the first period when newcomer Brad Haber made a nice pass from behind the net into the low slot to an open Colten Mayor who easily beat netminder Torrie Jung.
The Rebels finished with 21 shots on Jung and did have several other good scoring chances, but in the end it was their penalty kill and defensive performance that told the story.
They killed off six penalties, including a two-man disadvantage for 1:19 early in the second period with the score 1-0.
“We did an excellent job of up ice putting pressure on the puck and not allowing them easy access into our zone,” said Wallin. “In the end that was a key for us as we made the kills at key times”
Despite missing a number of key players Wallin didn’t feel the win meant more than a win at any other times of the season.
“Not really, every win is important for us,” he said. “Everyone wants ice time and want the opportunity to play. They have to have accountability to make sure they play at a level they need to play at the have success and get where we want to go regardless of who’s in the lineup and who’s missing. Plain and simple it feels good to win.”
l Rebels had two affiliated players — forward Chad Robinson of Manitoba and defenceman Matt Dumba of Calgary — in the lineup . . . Rebels are off until Dec. 27 when they host Lethbridge at 6 p.m. at the Centrium.