Rebels 6 Broncos 0
SWIFT CURRENT — The Red Deer Rebels were in a Bronco-bustin’ mood Tuesday evening.
Not in the most pleasant of moods after dropping a pair of weekend WHL contests to the Medicine Hat Tigers despite holding a healthy advantage in shots both nights, the Rebels blasted the Swift Current Broncos 6-0 before 1,839 fans at the Credit Union i-plex.
“It was a huge win. We felt it was real important to have a good start to the trip and especially a good response to the weekend,” said Rebels head coach/VP of hockey operations Jesse Wallin.
“We didn’t play well Saturday night (in a 4-1 loss to the visiting Tigers). We can say we had opportunities but we weren’t happy with our play and tonight we really responded to that.”
The Red Deer coaching staff spent Sunday watching video of the Saturday setback and before heading out on their four-game road trip Monday afternoon, had the players working on team systems during a practice session with the intention of tightening up their defensive play.
The combination of ‘watch and work’ was obviously effective.
“I thought that was evident in our game tonight, as was our work ethic,” said Wallin. “We did a real good job of tracking the puck hard and just the structure and detail of our game was much more evident.”
Andrej Kudrna, named first star of the game, tallied twice and picked up an assist for the visitors, who led 1-0 after one period and 5-0 after 40 minutes. Tyson Ness and Lane Scheidl each sniped an even-strength goal and John Persson and Adam Kambeitz scored power-play markers.
Second star Ryan Nugent-Hopkins collected three assists and third star Darcy Kuemper turned aside all 20 shots he faced to lower his goals-against average to 1.51 and raise his save percentage to .932.
“He was solid,” Wallin said of Kuemper, “but we also did a good job of limiting their opportunities. ‘Kuemps’ made the saves when we needed them, he made two or three real good stops. But we did a real good defensively, the guys were coming back hard.
“On most nights, if you’re doing things right and only giving up 20 shots on goal, you should come out on top.”
The Rebels were minus the services of forwards Josh Cowen and Turner Elson, neither of whom will play on the trip which continues tonight with a meeting with the Regina Pats and concludes with stops in Brandon and Moose Jaw Friday and Saturday.
The team learned Tuesday that Cowen has contracted mononucleosis, while Elson was diagnosed with a concussion after taking a hit along the end boards during Saturday’s game at the Centrium.
“His (Cowen’s) blood work came back today and he’ll be out a minimum of three weeks,” said Wallin. “He’s feeling fine and he’s not contagious, but there’s always a concern about enlarging of the spleen.”
As for Elson, the 18-year-old is experiencing only minor symptoms and Wallin is hopeful that he’ll be available for home games against Saskatoon and Prince Albert Oct. 15 and 16.
l Wallin placed defenceman Brad Haber on WHL waivers Tuesday after failing to find a trading partner for the 20-year-old.
“We weren’t able to get anything of value for him,” said Wallin, adding that Regina was the only team that considered making a trade for the Aldergrove, B.C., product, but not at the price the Rebels were asking.
“They weren’t willing to give up what we needed for him,” said the Rebels bench boss. “We felt he had some value, but I guess value is dictated by the market and a lot of the teams are set with their 20-year-olds.”
Haber, acquired from Seattle last season for a seventh-round draft pick, will find a home in the junior A ranks if he’s not claimed by another WHL club. Teams in all four western junior A leagues — including the Humboldt Broncos and Spruce Grove Saints — have expressed interest in the six-foot-two, 193-pound rearguard.
“He’s certainly not going to be short of options if he doesn’t stick in our league,” said Wallin.