Hitmen 5 Rebels 2
The Red Deer Rebels looked like a team that hadn’t played in seven days on Saturday.
Red Deer was slow, sloppy and out of sync with the Calgary Hitmen in town and the visitors took advantage, picking up a 5-2 victory.
Hitmen captain Mark Kastelic and Riley Stotts each had two goals and an assist and Brayden Peters made 20 saves in the convincing victory.
“I felt like we were pretty solid. We killed some early penalties which was good for us. Pretty steady hand,” said Hitmen coach Steve Hamilton.
“We want to play fast when we can, I would have liked a lot cleaner neutral zone. I thought everything we sort of gave back in terms of territory on the ice usually happened right around their blueline.”
For Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, his side was simply not good from the hop Saturday.
“I didn’t like our game at all. I thought our details weren’t very good and our positional play. Our play with the puck, we had it and we didn’t have four guys working for the guy that had it,” Sutter said.
“Just our details, we did a lot of looping. Not a lot of stopping and starting.”
Just 5:12 into the game, Katstelic tipped a point shot by Jett Woo to open the scoring.
Red Deer hung with the Hitmen from there, despite being outshot 12-5 in the first period.
A Chris Douglas boarding minor put the Rebels down a man midway through the second and then a careless hooking call to Arshdeep Bains had the Rebels trying to kill off a 5-on-3.
Riley Stotts finished off a nice passing play that was set up by Woo and Orca Wiesblatt and from there, Red Deer was never able to recover.
“You’re still in the game, it’s 1-0 and you take a bad penalty and it puts you down two men, 5-on-3 and they capitalize on it,” Sutter said.
“You look at the goals they got, it’s the details in the game that we work on every day in practice, we just weren’t sharp on and we got buried because of it.”
Kastelic added his second of the night with just 1:08 left in the second, off another turnover for the Rebels.
Early in the third, Josh Prokop outwaited Ethan Anders for his 11th goal of the season, another defensive coverage lapse by the Rebels.
“Our turnover ratio, the last two minutes of the second period, we had five turnovers in one and a half shifts. They eventually scored. Turnovers were from the hash marks to the redline. Bad areas to turn pucks over,” Sutter said.
“Wasn’t a great game by us, full marks to them, they played well enough to win and we didn’t play well enough to give ourselves a chance to win.”
Ben King finally got the Rebels on the board with 7:08 left in the third.
With 3:48 to play, Jace Isley converted his second goal of the season and Trey Patterson also recorded his first WHL point with an assist.
Stotts clinched the win with an empty-net goal with 1:42 to go.
Anders turned aside 25 shots in the loss for Red Deer.
Three stars: Mark Kastelic (1), Ben King (2), Riley Stotts (3).
Red Deer heads to Calgary Sunday afternoon to take on the Hitmen.