Brett Davis of the Red Deer Rebels checks Danila Palivko in the first period during WHL preseason play at the Centrium on Friday. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Rebels edge Hurricanes in preseason home opener

Rebels 3 Hurricanes 2 (preseason)

Early in the WHL preseason, it can sometimes be like pulling a dirty shirt out of the laundry.

Plenty of wrinkles, ones that simply need to be ironed out before it comes out presentable.

Friday was the first time many of the Red Deer Rebels regulars have seen game action since last spring and the rust was somewhat evident in a 3-2 win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes at the Centrium.

Overall, Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said in the first preseason game there is going to be some sloppy play, but he liked the energy and work ethic the group brought to the table in the win.

“I thought the game was fast-paced. There were times when it was sloppy. It’s our first exhibition game. I’m sure their coach is saying the same thing,” he said.

“I liked the energy. I liked the work ethic. The kids competed. There were some young guys stood out more than others. Other guys as the game went on, started to settle in.”

Hometown kid Josh Tarzwell, in his 19-year-old season is hoping this year can finally be a breakout season and he started off on the right foot.

Coming off 11 goals in 67 regular-season games last year, Tarzwell scored twice in the win over Lethbridge, both on the backhand.

“It’s nice to get that, but hopefully it can translate into the regular season at some point, too,” he said postgame.

Paired with veterans Cam Hausinger and Brett Davis for most of the night, the trio showed shades of what might turn out to be a productive unit for the Rebels’ bench boss.

“The big thing with Tarz is skating. He’s got such a great shot, but he’s gotta skate and move his feet. He’s strong and can play like a bull,” Sutter said.

“He was in the right place at the right time and he was moving his feet. With his shot, if he hits the net, it’s a good thing.”

Late in the opening frame, Hausinger slid a pass to Tarzwell on a two-on-one and the Red Deer product slipped a backhand past Bryan Thompson to tie the game at one.

Just under two minutes into the second, Davis snipped his first of the preseason on the power play.

Late in the period, Alex Thacker brought the Hurricanes even again when he buried high blocker on Ethan Anders.

The Rebels netminder allowed two goals on 15 shots in his first action of the preseason. He was replaced by 18-year-old Eric Ward, who was a perfect 13 for 13 in the victory. He hasn’t allowed a goal in 58 minutes of play this preseason.

Tarzwell’s second of the night and the Rebels third of the contest came on a scramble in front when he tucked a backhand in from just on top of the crease.

The 19-year-old Red Deer Minor Hockey product added that he also thought the game was a bit sloppy but said considering they’ve only played their teammates for the last two weeks, it was nice to line up against someone different for a change.

“The older guys stepped in and it was our first preseason game together so there it’s going to be a bit choppy. Not always a lot of flow. We work on it in practice. We’ll get all the systems down and it’ll be good,” he said.

The Rebels are back at it Saturday night in Lethbridge, before hosting the Medicine Hat Tigers on Sept. 13. Their final preseason game is Sept. 15 in Calgary.

Quick Shifts

Rebels trim roster to 28

Before the game, Brent Sutter announced the team had released five players from the active roster, dropping it down to 28. Defencemen Hunter Mayo (05), Trey Patterson (03) and Jace Weir (04) and will report to their respect midget clubs. Carter Anderson (04) and Josh Medernach (04) were also dropped from the active roster.

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