The usual suspects were it again Friday.
Red Deer’s top line of Jeff de Wit, Brandon Hagel and Reese Johnson struck early and carried the Rebels to a 6-2 win over the surging Calgary Hitmen.
In front of 3,797 rowdy fans at the Centrium, the veteran trio scored four times and recorded seven points in the victory.
Playing a Hitmen team that had won five of their last seven games, de Wit said getting off to a good start helped the Rebels settle into the contest.
“It was awesome to get those goals and go up 4-0 on a team that’s been super hot, it was awesome,” said de Wit, who had two goals in the win.
“But if we had have closed it out in the second and third, we would have had a 60-minute game. We’ll look to do that Saturday.”
The score perhaps did not tell the entire story, as the Rebels were outshot 45-23, including 9-5 in the third. Ethan Anders was solid with 45 saves in the win.
“I thought were okay. I didn’t think we played great,” Rebels GM/ head coach Brent Sutter said.
“We spent a lot of time without the puck and in our own zone. Our goalie was good. It was good to see him have a response.”
De Wit buried twice in the opening frame, his 18th and 19th goals of the year.
His first of the night came on a beautiful setup from defenseman Alex Alexeyev, in his first game back from injury.
Alexeyev drove wide and drew the attention of a pair of Hitmen defenders before he slipped a pass back to de Wit who was wide open at the top of the crease.
— Rob Wallator (@wallygator88) December 1, 2018
Hagel extended the Rebels advantage four seconds into a power play, only a minute and a half after de Wit’s goal.
Just 73 seconds later, de Wit notched his team-leading 19th goal on a breakaway that squeaked over the goal line.
After 20 minutes, Red Deer had a commanding 4-0 lead.
Early in the second, Hagel one-upped himself on a goal identical to his first-period tally.
After Johnson won the faceoff, Hagel picked it up and skated to just above the hash marks before firing a wrist shot past McNaughton.
His 17th goal of the year came just three seconds into the power play, one second faster than in the first.
Red Deer native Luke Coleman finally broke Anders’ shutout bid with 6:31 left in the second. It was his eighth goal of the year. Hitmen captain Mark Kastelic added his 22nd goal of the year midway through the third.
Douglas notched his second of the night with 2:21 left in the game and the Richmond, B.C. native has eight goals in 26 games.
“We scored on some opportunities in the first half of the game, but I thought we chased the game,” Sutter added.
“I thought our defenceman did a good job. Our forward had too many turnovers. Our positional play, we are going to have to really work on that.”
Hagel was first star, Johnson was second star and Coleman was third star.
Red Deer will host the Moose Jaw Warriors Saturday night at the Centrium with puck drop set for 7 p.m.