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Penalties sink Rebels in second straight loss

Rebels were one for five on the penalty kill
Red Deer Rebels centre Ben King just misses a chance to poke a loose puck past Winnipeg ICE goalie Gage Alexander in WHL action last season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

A fury of penalties proved costly for the Red Deer Rebels which led to their second loss in a row to the Winnipeg Ice 7-4.

After Red Deer pulled within one goal in the third period the Ice capitalized on a pair of penalties. In total, the Rebels spent 10 minutes in the penalty box and Winnipeg made them pay scoring four powerplay goals on five attempts. On the other side, the Rebels were held scoreless on two powerplay attempts.

Head coach Steve Konowalchuk was disappointed in his team for the number of penalties they took and said they need to clean it up moving forward.

“We’ve taken careless penalties in the last couple of weeks. I thought we addressed the undisciplined kind and all of a sudden yesterday’s game and today’s game they came back in,” Konowalchuk said. “We can’t do it so I’m very disappointed in that. Top teams have got to be better than that if we’re going to take ourselves seriously.”

To start the game forward Conor Geekie fired one past rookie goaltender Rhett Stoesser as he went around the defender and placed it top shelf to take an early lead in the contest. Less than two minutes later forward Skyler Bruce scored on the powerplay off a sweet pass out front and added his second just over midway through the frame. Forward Owen Pederson made it 4-0 when he picked the glove side corner three minutes after that to take a commanding lead early in the game.

In the last few minutes of the opening period, the Rebels got on the board. Forward Frantisek Formanek got his fourth of the year after he cut in front of the net off a pass by forward Arjun Bawa who got his first point of the season.

In the middle frame, the Rebels played their best period of the game which started with a fantastic goal by forward Jace Isley who muscled his way out front to score his 10th of the campaign.

However, after Formanek took a four-minute double minor penalty for slew footing the Ice answered back with a tally from forward Connor McClennon.

In the final minute Rebels rookie forward Carson Birnie ripped a wrist shot from the top of the circle for his third goal of the season and his second against Winnipeg. The goal was a big one for the Rebels as they headed into the third period down only two goals 5-3 after 40 minutes.

In the third period, Isley scored his second goal of the night just over a minute into the period as he found a loose puck in the crease off a Jayden Grubbe shot to bring Red Deer within one.

Following the great effort by Red Deer, the game began to unravel for the Rebels after two powerplay goals by Winnipeg on undisciplined penalties.

After defenceman Quentin Bourne took a roughing penalty, Pederson scored Winnipeg’s third powerplay goal of the evening to lead 6-4 five minutes into the period. Midway through the period, defenceman Matteo Fabrizi took a holding penalty and the Ice added another powerplay goal for McClennon’s second of the game to go up 7-4.

“We weren’t very good at the start but we battled back and played some pretty darn good hockey to get in the game… It’s hard to understand what goes through a player’s mind and I’ve been in their shoes but I still can’t understand what’s going through their mind right there,” he said. “I can’t understand why you put yourself before the team and do that. It just frustrates me.”

Konowalchuk said the penalties are part of the players’ mental effort. It’s easy to take a careless penalty but the Rebels bench boss wants his team to be focused enough not to take penalties.

“You’ve got to be determined. I liked our physical effort and there were some guys who played solid games. But there are different parts of our game at different parts of the game that are not good enough and not consistent enough,” he said. “We have to be consistent… I think we have to get dialed in and realize how hard it was to win all those games and get back to that.”

The Rebels will play in Brandon on Friday for a rare afternoon tilt against the Wheat Kings at 1:30 p.m. MDT before they head to Regina on Saturday to take on the Pats at 6 p.m. MDT.

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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