Rebels 7 Ice 1
Now that’s a rebound.
One night after being basically embarrassed by the Calgary Hitmen in their 2009-10 Western Hockey League season home-opener, the Red Deer Rebels bounced back in a big way on Saturday, crushing the Kootenay Ice 7-1 before an announced gathering of 4,117 at the Centrium.
“I just think our work ethic was better tonight. We came out and did what we had to do,” said Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin. “We brought the intensity and the work ethic that we want to see.
“I don’t know what went on last night; we haven’t had a game like that in some time. I don’t know if it was just nerves being that it was a home opener, or if we were just giving the Hitmen too much respect because of the year they had last season. But tonight was the identity we want to have here.”
Indeed, the Rebels dominated an undisciplined Kootenay squad, firing three power-play goals while pelting Ice goaltender Todd Matthews with 50 shots. Red Deer netminder Darcy Kuemper had a night off in comparison, looking at only 15 volleys.
“Our forecheck was really good. We did a good job of keeping it simple and making sure we got pucks behind their D-men and kept our feet moving,” said Wallin. “And our defence was much better tonight in terms of moving the puck. We had better gap control through the neutral zone, which allowed us to have the puck a lot more and spend less time in our end.
“In general, I just thought that it was a good effort, a real solid response to what happened last night.”
Willie Coetzee, fresh off signing a free-agent, entry-level contract with the Detroit Red Wings, notched his first two goals of the season for the Rebels, who got additional markers from Alex Petrovic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Josh Cowen, John Persson and Cass Mappin, who added a pair of assists. Nugent-Hopkins and Persson also contributed an assist, and walk-on camper Turner Elson picked up a pair of helpers.
Brayden McNabb scored the lone goal for the Ice.
Just 24 hours after a zero-for-eight power-play performance against the Hitmen, the Rebels were three-for-11 versus the Ice. Still, Wallin wasn’t overly impressed with his club’s play with a man advantage.
“I think we still have some work to do there. It was nice to get some (power-play) goals but I thought there were times that we looked out of synch,” said the Rebels bench boss. “I think that’s one area of our game where we have room to improve. We were getting a little too cute on the power play and we have to get a little more greasy on it.”
Overall, Wallin was pleased with the manner in which his team bounced back from Friday’s 6-2 loss to Calgary.
“I just really liked our response to what happened last night,” he said. “It (6-2 loss) wasn’t the way we wanted to start the season but maybe it was a good wake-up call for us.”
The Rebels, who are idle until Friday when they host the 0-2 Lethbridge Hurricanes, lost star forward Landon Ferraro to an injury — which resulted in a cross-checking penalty to Kootenay’s Cody Sylvester — in the second period.
“Landon fell into the boards in an awkward manner and he’s being evaluated as we speak,” said Wallin. “We’ll know more over the next few days and hopefully he’ll be all right.”