Oil Kings 3 Rebels 1 (Saturday)
Oil Kings 5 Rebels 2 (Sunday)
Six games in 10 days was too much to overcome for a depleted Red Deer Rebels squad.
On home ice, the Edmonton Oil Kings took advantage of the undermanned Rebels Sunday in a 5-2 victory, closing out a three-game sweep of the WHL Central division mini-series.
Five different Edmonton players hit the scoresheet and Red Deer minor hockey product Colby Knight picked up his first career WHL win with 16 saves on 18 shots.
Josh Tarzwell buried his fifth of the year for the Rebels and Zac Smith notched his second in the loss. Kaid Oliver, Scott Atkinson, Tyler Horstmann, Ethan Cap and Josh Williams scored for the Oil Kings in the win and both Dylan Guenther and Jake Neighbours had two assists.
Ethan Anders finished the night with 31 saves for Red Deer.
Rebels were missing five regulars Sunday: Jayden Grubbe (out for season) and Ben King (day-to-day) as well as defencemen Kyle Masters (week-to-week), Mason Ward (day-to-day) and Joel Sexsmith (day-to-day).
Saturday, special teams cost the Red Deer Rebels for the second straight game.
Red Deer allowed two power-play goals to the Edmonton Oil Kings and scored just once in six opportunities on the way to a 3-1 loss at the Centrium.
Although the work ethic and five-on-five play were better, it a similar story to 24 hours earlier when the Rebels allowed three-man-advantage markers to the Oil Kings in a losing cause.
“I thought we played pretty good really. We just have a hard time scoring. They got two power-play goals again on us and our specialty teams – we haven’t scored on our power play enough and our penalty killing hasn’t been very good,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter.
“Five-on-five play we’ve actually played pretty good. We hit two or three posts and we had five two-on-ones and a breakaway and we got two shots on net. Those are scoring opportunities that when you don’t make the right play, you don’t make the pass or you’re shooting the puck and missing the net, you’re really not getting a quality scoring chance.”
Edmonton took advantage early, converting their first power-play chance of the night just six seconds into a Jace Isley hooking minor. Jalen Luypen feathered a sweet slap pass to Atkinson at the side of the goal for his third of the season.
A Blake Gustafson cross-check put the Rebels short again and just over a minute into the power play Matthew Robertson rifled home his first of the campaign.
The Rebels pushed back from there, hitting the post twice and they appeared to get within a goal late in the frame. Dallon Melin pushed in a loose puck, but it was ruled he pushed in most of Sebastian Cossa’s pad and the goal was called off.
With less than a minute left in the second, the Rebels turned it over at their own blueline and Luypen fired a wrister high past Byron Fancy.
Rebels’ rookie Kalan Lind brought the energy all night in his second WHL contest and helped the home side stay in the fight.
The feisty 16-year-old fell an assist short of the Gordie Howe hat trick, with his first career fight at the end of the second period and his first career goal – a point shot that he got a stick on and redirected past Cossa.
“He gave us emotion. He gives us life. He’s a courageous young player. He’s got great skill and just has to get stronger. He scored a big goal and I just thought he was really solid. I thought the other kids were too,” Sutter said.
Rookie Jace Weir also picked up his first career WHL point with an assist on the Lind tally.
Red Deer had several chances to get within a goal late in the game, with the goalie out on the power play – hitting the post twice six-on-four in the last two minutes.
Cossa’s 160-plus minute shutout streak was snapped by the Lind tally, but he still finished with 26 saves in the win. Fancy stopped 25 in the loss.
The Rebels are 2-6-2-0 and are now off until Easter weekend.