Rebels 4 Wheat Kings 2
Not that they were bad, but it took the Red Deer Rebels 20 minutes to wake up Wednesday.
Then again they had a right to be a little off the mark as they didn’t arrive home until 4 a.m. following a 5-4 shootout loss to the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook Tuesday.
But once they found their legs they were on top of their game as they scored three times in the second period on their way to a 4-2 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings in Western Hockey League action before an announced crowd of 4,612 at the Centrium.
“It took us a little time to get our legs going in that first period, we looked like a team that didn’t get home until 4 a.m.,” said Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin. “Plus they have a tremendous amount of skill and depth up front and we got ourselves in trouble as we were a step behind and turned the puck over a lot. As a result they scored because of it.”
Despite being outshot 13-8, including a stretch where they gave up 10 straight shots, the Rebels got through the opening period only trailing 1-0. Shayne Wiebe connected following a giveaway deep in the Red Deer zone.
The Rebels were a bit fortunate it was only 1-0 as Brent Raedeke, who was picked up in a trade with the Edmonton Oil Kings Tuesday, hit the post with an open side and seconds later Matt Calvert hit the side of the net with an clear opening.
The Wheat Kings also held an edge in the physical department, but that may have helped the Rebels wake up.
“That was a wake up call for us . . . it rattled us a bit and got us going,” said Rebels rookie forward John Persson, who scored once and helped set up a second marker in the second period.
Lane Scheidl tied the score eight minutes into the second period then the Rebels power play went to work. Willie Coetzee beat Brandon netminder Jacob DeSerres at 12:35 while enjoying a two-man advantage and Persson had a Coetzee pass go in off his skate at 13:52.
“It was a lucky one, but also a good pass by Coetzee,” said Persson, who has scored in three of the last four games.
“It’s about time,” he said. “I had a lot of chances before Christmas, but now everything seems to be loosening up a bit as I’m getting used to the league.”
The Rebels held a 14-5 edge in shots in the second period and were able to keep the momentum going in the third, although the Wheat Kings did narrow the gap when Raedeke connected at 9:24 when the puck bounced off a leg and he had an open net.
However, the Rebels and netminder Darcy Kuemper didn’t fold and Andrej Kudrna put the game away at 19:07, converting a pass from Landon Ferraro on a two-on-one.
“In the second and third periods we got our legs going and our forechecking going, especially in the second period,” said Wallin. “We did a lot better job of managing the puck and kept it out of the hands of their forwards and we were able to create some offence ourselves.
“I thought a couple guys had their best games of the season, but it was a real, real good team effort, we got contributions from every guy,” added Wallin. “Our goaltending stood up for us and the power play and penalty kill was solid.”
The Rebels connected twice on four attempts on the power play and killed off all six Brandon power plays.
Wheat Kings assistant captain and outstanding defenceman Colby Robak felt penalties were a difference.
“We liked the way we started as we came out of the gate with a lot of jump, but unfortunately we ran into some penalty trouble in the second period, but then that’s hockey and it happens,” he said. “We got behind by a couple of goals and as a result had to battle back all evening. Their goaltender stood on his head and unfortunately for us it wasn’t going in . . . you can’t win them all.”
• Kuemper finished with 25 saves while the Rebels had 31 shots on DeSerres . . . Rebels rookie centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins helped lead Team Pacific to a 10-4 win over Team Atlantic at the World U17 Championship in Timmins, Ont. Wednesday with four assists . . . Team Pacific, who lost 6-2 to Russia Tuesday, is 1-1.