Goals were tough to come by in Portland on Saturday.
It took 41 minutes for the first to get by Red Deer Rebels netminder Ethan Anders and at the other end, Joel Hofer was perfect for the Portland Winterhawks.
Hofer stopped all 25 shots he faced and earned his third career shutout in a 2-0 win over the Rebels in Portland.
The first goal of the contest did not cross the goal line until 41 seconds into the third period when a puck hit a skate in front of Anders and snuck past the Rebels’ goalie. Anders was third star and finished the night with 27 saves.
“I thought we played a real good game. We didn’t capitalize on chances. We had opportunities and we didn’t score. Their goal went off our skate and in the net,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said.
“Both goalies played well. We’re having a hard time scoring goals. Our power play is 0-for-18, it’s been a battle. It’s not like we’re not playing well… you don’t score goals, you’re not going to win.”
Power play woes have plagued the Rebels over the last several months and they missed on all three opportunities against Portland. It is now 18th in the WHL and operating at 18.1 per cent.
The loss was also the Rebels eighth in the last nine games and they only sit four points up on the Brandon Wheat Kings for the Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
Sutter said the effort needed to be a playoff team was there Saturday, his group at times has just simply struggled to score and that has hurt them more of late than it did in December and January.
“You just have to stay the course. You start thinking and you start cheating. This team has been notorious for that, especially in December and January when we weren’t competing,” Sutter said.
“We got playing here in February, the best hockey we’ve played all year but we just haven’t capitalized. Look at the game (Friday) we scored four goals and we lose. That just tells you we weren’t good enough defensively and tells you your goaltending wasn’t good enough… we need to play better (Friday) so Saturday was a kick in the get because we let Friday get away.”
Red Deer will finish their American road trip in Kennewick, Washington against the Tri-City Americans before coming home to Alberta to take on the Edmonton Oil Kings.