Calgary 5 Red Deer 1
Saturday was a tale of two teams going in opposite directions.
Red Deer had lost four of its last six and the Calgary Hitmen were winners of six of the last seven.
From puck drop, it was evident which group was heading what direction as the Hitmen were dominant from the get-go. With a flurry of tallies in the second, Calgary powered to a 5-1 win at the Centrium. The victory also pushed the surging Hitmen within two points of Red Deer in the central division standings.
It was another crucial divisional test that the Rebels simply did not show up for, after losing 6-2 in Lethbridge on Friday. In the last five games, the Rebels have been outscored 21-11.
“Just a reflection of how the last two or three weeks have been. Stupid hockey, undisciplined hockey. Lazy hockey. Our last three games we’ve given up 15 goals, five-per-game, you don’t win games like that,” Sutter said after the loss Saturday.
“A lot of stuff we’ve worked on in practice, we don’t see them implement it in games. The bottom line is your best players outside of Hags, our best players aren’t our best players and you don’t win like that… it’s a battle with it right now. We seem to be fighting it. A lot of different guys are fighting it. Instead of fighting through it, you get into that feeling sorry for yourself mode. It’s affecting them.”
Despite being outshot 15-6 in the opening frame, Red Deer still had a lead through 20 minutes.
Defenceman Dawson Barteaux scored for the first time in 10 games and busted an 0-for-17 slump on the power play for the Rebels.
That special teams win was overshadowed by the second period, in which the Rebels allowed a pair of power play goals. Mark Kastelic scored his first of two three minutes and seven seconds into the period on the man-advantage.
It got worse quickly for the Red Deer, as Carson Sass tried to clear the puck out of danger in front of the Rebels’ net and put it right on the stick of Carson Focht. Focht then buried upstairs on Byron Fancy, who finished with 33 saves.
Just 1:18 later, things spiraled even further out of control when Kaden Elder was left uncovered and slid a loose puck past Fancy.
Late in the period, the avalanche of goals kept coming. Jeff de Wit was called for a cross check and six seconds later Josh Tarzwell was dinged for delay of game.
On the power play, Kastelic notched his second of the night to put the game out of reach.
“Stupid hockey. Comes from stupid penalties,” Sutter said.
“Too many men penalty when you turn and go back into the play when a guy is going on for you? Shoot the puck into the stands when you have 85 feet across the rink and 2oo feet to shoot it down, you shoot it into the stands? It’s not smart hockey. You’re not thinking the game the right way.”
Red Deer only managed four shots in the third period and took three penalties. James Malm scored the only goal of the frame, four-on-four as the Rebels’ once again lost coverage in the defensive zone.
Sutter, who has been behind the bench for nearly 500 wins in the WHL, has seen his fair share of losing streaks over that time as well. He had some simple advice after the Rebels third straight loss, which has only happened one other time this season.
“Get mad a little bit and stop feeling sorry for yourself. Get your heads where they need to be,” Sutter said.
“We’re just not getting the response right now. Mentally, they are not where they need to be and I guess we got to get back to the real world and do some stuff that real people do, get up early in the morning and go to work.”