The Calgary Hitmen have only won twice in their last 10 games and both wins were against the Red Deer Rebels.
At the Centrium Saturday night, Calgary beat Red Deer 4-3 in a shootout for the second time in a week.
Last Saturday the Hitmen won 2-1 at home in overtime over the Rebels.
With the loss, the Rebels have now dropped 14 of their last 15 games.
Brent Sutter, Rebels GM/head coach, said the team has to learn to deal with adversity and to avoid developing a losing mindset.
“It’s just how you handle it,” said Sutter. “And we’ve got some guys who handle it okay and some guys who have a lot to learn. Some guys you have to get them out of the mindset that just keeping it close isn’t good enough. When it is close, you have to find ways to get over it. We’ve been in a lot of close games this year and we haven’t been able to get the two points at the end of the night.”
The Rebels were up 3-1 in the second, but two goals 55 seconds apart for the Hitmen turned the tide and gave the visitors some momentum. Jake Kryski notched his sixth of the year on the power play while Conner Chaulk put in his seventh. Kryski’s marker came on a Mason McCarty four-minute minor for slew footing.
“The second period hurt us. We were up 3-1 and you just have to continue to do things right. We had played pretty well up to that point. We just make a bad play killing a penalty,” Sutter said.
“Instead of killing the penalty off, we try to score a goal, a defenceman cheats, and an odd-man rush and it’s in our net. Maybe, a bad goal from our goaltender. Then they score right away and it’s 3-3. We got off our game for six minutes and we took some penalties. It hurt us tonight.”
Red Deer outshot the Hitmen 14-3 in the third but couldn’t find the go-ahead goal.
“There needed to be a push in the third and we did that. We had chances and didn’t score. We had chances in overtime and didn’t score. There’s guys that that need to get some goals who have had tremendous chances game after game and they aren’t capitalizing on them. It hurts us,” Sutter said.
Kristian Reichel blasted home a one-timer from the top of the circle early in the first period on the power play. The Litvinov, Czech Republic native is up to 13 goals on the season and leads all WHL rookies in that category. The goal whipped the crowd into a frenzy on the team’s annual toque toss night.
Kristian Reichel on the power play early in the first for @Rebelshockey and on toque toss night! 1-0 Red Deer over Hitmen 12:39 into the frame. Reichel is deadly from that spot. #whl #reddeer pic.twitter.com/Ka8mEAlqZ0
— Byron Hackett (@RDAbyronhackett) December 3, 2017
Lane Zablocki scored his ninth of the year late in the opening frame on a rebound past Hitmen netminder Nick Schneider.
Austin Schellenberg added his first career WHL goal with a gorgeous backhand top shelf early in the second.
Schneider made 32 saves in the Hitmen net while Riley Lamb made 28 in the Rebels net, but Sutter said he expects a better performance from his netminder.
“I didn’t like two of their goals on Lamber tonight either. He’s a 19-year-0ld goaltender and we need some veteran saves out of certain things. I didn’t think he played that well tonight and that hurt us,” Sutter said.
“I’m not going to point fingers but those are the things that are hurting us. We have to try and get through this wall. There’s a fine line between winning and losing and we’re staying on the wrong side of the line because of certain things we are doing.”
Both Alex Alexeyev and Grayson Pawlenchuk had chances to win the game in overtime for Red Deer but couldn’t convert.
In the shootout, Reichel scored on the first shot for the Rebels and Mason McCarty also found the mark. Both Jakob Stukel and Kryski scored for Calgary, then Lamb stopped Riley Stotts and Jake Bean, while Schellenberg and Reese Johnson missed for Red Deer. After Lane Zablocki was stopped, Vladislav Yeromenko scored to win it for Calgary.
Rebels alternate captain Brandon Hagel is out week-to-week with an upper body injury.
The Rebels next contest is a road trip to Lethbridge to take on the Hurricanes on Dec. 6.