Hurricanes 7 Rebels 3
LETHBRIDGE — The Red Deer Rebels ran into a storm Tuesday and head coach Jesse Wallin was blown away by his team’s performance.
“We got out-worked, out-competed and out-battled. That was really the difference in the hockey game,” said Wallin, following a 7-3 loss to the host Lethbridge Hurricanes in a Western Hockey League preseason contest.
“We were OK early in the game, then we had a couple of opportunities on the power play where we didn’t score and we seemed to kind of sag from there. We got through the first period all right, but we didn’t play anywhere close to what we’re capable of. We didn’t really establish our game and it just kind of caught up to us as the night went on.”
The teams were tied 1-1 after one period, but the Hurricanes had a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes and never looked back.
“I thought we were really soft and just lost a lot of battles. We didn’t really play with any assertiveness in any aspect of our game,” said Wallin.
“There wasn’t a whole lot to be pleased about or proud of tonight. We want to be a team that takes great pride in our work ethic and it wasn’t there tonight.”
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Tyson Ness, who also contributed an assist, and Josh Cowen — on the power play — scored for the Rebels. The ‘Canes spread their offence around, getting goals from Austin Fyten, Adam Henry, Cason Machacek, Mitch Maxwell, Max Ross, Graham Hood and Russian import Alex Kuvaev.
The Rebels were a measly one-for-14 on the power play, while the ‘Canes were zero-for-six with a man advantage.
Bolton Pouliot went the distance in the Red Deer net and finished with 17 saves. The Lethbridge tandem of Dylan Tait and Innisfail product Tanner Kovacs combined to stop 34 shots.
While Pouliot, a 16-year-old rookie, wasn’t as sharp as was the case in Red Deer’s first two preseason games — 3-0 and 4-3 wins over the Calgary Hitmen — Wallin wasn’t pinning the loss on the Calgary native.
“He didn’t make a lot of saves but he didn’t have a lot of help,” said the Rebels bench boss. “He was hung out to dry too often.”
The Rebels dropped to 2-1 in exhibition action and conclude their preseason schedule this weekend with 7:30 p.m. contests in Lacombe and Stettler against the Edmonton Oil Kings and Medicine Hat Tigers.
l According to a TSN poll of 10 NHL scouts, Nugent-Hopkins is among three players considered to be a notch above the rest of the field for next year’s NHL entry draft. Drummondville centre Sean Couturier and Swedish rearguard Adam Larsson had four first-place votes in the scouts survey, while Nugent-Hopkins was No. 1 on the other two ballots.
“All three guys have something special,” one scout told TSN’s Bob McKenzie. “Couturier is a big, skilled centre, Larsson is a total package defenceman and Nugent-Hopkins is a tremendous offensive talent with elite skill. It’s going to be the most interesting race for No. 1 we’ve seen in a long time.”