Hurricanes 4 Rebels 3
In a tight WHL game, it’s the little details that make the biggest difference.
For the Red Deer Rebels Tuesday at the Centrium, those details were ironed out in two-thirds of their game, but not on the penalty kill against the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Poor play a man short cost the Rebels in their fifth straight defeat, this one 4-3 at the hands of their Central Division foe.
Lethbride cashed on three out of four chances on the man-advantage, one more than the Rebels two power play tallies and that was the difference in the win.
“Obviously, our penalty killing wasn’t good enough. They got three power play goals,” said a frustrated Brent Sutter post-game.
“It’s probably the best game we’ve played all year five-on-five. I thought we did a really good job. We’ve had seven games at home, we’ve won one. Fourteen points and we’ve got three. Obviously, our home record isn’t even close to where it needs to be… we’ve got to get our whole game in order.”
Zak Smith was the first star for the Rebels with a pair of goals and Brett Davis notched three assists in the loss, while Ethan Anders turned aside 23 shots in the loss.
Just over 30 seconds into a Josh Tarzwell hit to the head minor early in the game, Lethbridge struck. Koletrane Wilson fired a wirst shot from the point through a crowd and Dino Kambeitz tipped it past Anders.
Jayden Grubbe drew the Rebels even early in the second with his first WHL goal. Davis forced a turnover at the Hurricanes blue line, fired a pass to Grubbe who went low blocker on Bryan Thompson from the faceoff dot for his first career tally.
“He’s been good, for a 16-year-old player, he’s continuing to understand his positional play and how he needs to play in his own zone,” Sutter said.
“He’s really worked hard at his game in that area and he needs to continue to work hard. That offensive side of it will come over time. It’s great for him to get that goal. It was a good goal, right at a key time.”
From there, the Hurricanes, took over, notching three straight goals. Justin Hall converted on the power play, before Koletrane Wilson buried a bomb of a one timer from the blueline at 8:27 of the frame. With 5:25 left in the period, Oliver Okuliar put the Canes up 4-1.
Late in the frame, Red Deer connected for their second power play tally of the contest to cut the deficit in half. Smith tipped home a Dawson Barteaux point shot for his second goal of the year.
Smith buried his second of the night early in the third, on another tip, for the first multi-goal game of his WHL career.
Red Deer pushed the pace for the final 10 minutes of the contest, but couldn’t find the equalizer.
The victory was the fifth straight for the Hurricanes.
The Rebels host the Seattle Thunderbirds Friday at 7 p.m. at the Centrium, before starting a six-game road trip in Moose Jaw on Saturday night.