Tigers 2 Rebels 1
MEDICINE HAT — The Red Deer Rebels took it to the Medicine Hat Tigers through the second half of Friday’s Western Hockey League encounter at the Arena.
Too bad they didn’t start earlier.
The Rebels coughed up a pair of power-play goals in the first 10 minutes and eventually dropped a 2-1 decision before 4,006 fans.
With Rebels forward Adam Kambeitz serving hooking infractions, Tyler Pitlick connected just 1:43 into the contest and Ryan Harrison upped the count to 2-0 eight minutes later. Turner Elson replied with a man-advantage marker at 13:17 of the second period and the visitors held a whopping 16-5 advantage in shots over the final 20 minutes, but couldn’t get a second puck past netminder and first star Deven Dubyk, who finished with 31 saves.
“We had some real good chances. Their goaltender stood on his head,” said Rebels head coach and VP of hockey operations Jesse Wallin. “I thought we played well through the last two periods and certainly had enough opportunities, especially on our power play. We were getting second and third whacks and had good traffic in front. Their goaltender made some really good saves.”
However, Wallin didn’t enjoy the view from the bench during the opening frame.
“In my mind, what lost us the game is we didn’t play in the first period,” he said. “Both goals that they scored on the power play were goals that we gave them. We had a real soft breakdown on the first one and the second one was a soft goal that went through our defenceman and our goaltender.
“We just didn’t come out with any urgency or intensity and we let them carry the play to us through the first period. That was the difference in the hockey game.”
The clubs meet again tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Centrium.
“I expect a response,” said Wallin, whose club suffered its first setback of the season after opening with three wins. “This was a game that hurts to lose. You have to play for 60 minutes to give yourself a chance to win.
“Like Bryce (assistant coach Thoma) said, you can’t win a game in the first period but you can certainly lose it, and that’s what happened tonight when we allowed them to take the play to us.”
Darcy Kuemper made 15 saves in the Red Deer net.
l Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who assisted on Elson’s goal, was named second star. The third star was Linden Vey, who had a hand in both Tigers goals.