Rebels 4 Hurricanes 3
The Red Deer Rebels closed out a six-game Western Hockey League road trip Saturday with a break-even 4-3 win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Not bad, considering the club was 1-3 heading into the final two contests of the nine-day excursion.
“Going into any road trip you obviously want to be over .500, but getting three wins on the road was important for us and it will be important for us to build off the last two games we won,” Rebels associate coach Jeff Truitt said Monday, reflecting also on Fridays’ 3-0 victory over the Kootenay Ice.
“Getting wins at Kootenay and Lethbridge hopefully sets us up for a good week of practice and the hunger to stay with it going into the weekend.”
The Rebels were in full control at Lethbridge until the final minute of the second period when the ‘Canes struck for two goals to reduce a 4-1 Red Deer lead to a single marker.
“They (Hurricanes) had a good push there and we kind of broke down a bit,” said Truitt.
On the positive side . . .
“Our power play was outstanding, with the puck movement and shot selections and just the hunger and urgency of it all,” said Truitt, in reference to the Rebels’ three-for-six run with a man advantage. “We had a couple of other breakdowns in the game and Patrik (goaltender Bartosak) stood tall for us. It was a good team win.”
The Rebels got first-period goals from captain Conner Bleackley (power play) and Brooks Maxwell, while Josh Derko scored for the Hurricanes. Rebels rookie defenceman Nick Charif notched his first ever WHL goal — on the power play — 5:18 into the middle frame and Rhyse Dieno scored a man-advantage marker just over five minutes later for a 4-1 Red Deer lead.
The ‘Canes then got a goal from Jamal Watson at the 19-minute mark and another from Brady Ramsay with 10 seconds remaining in the period. From there, the clubs battled through a scoreless final frame.
Bartosak made 21 saves while posting his eighth win of the season. Corbin Boes turned aside 26 shots for the ‘Canes.
Considering the Rebels opened the trip with a split of a two-game set at Victoria and then fell 4-1 and 6-2 at Kamloops and Kelowna, posting back-to-back wins to conclude the trip should provide at least a measure of momentum heading into a Friday home game against the Moose Jaw Warriors.
“The first game in Victoria we probably didn’t deserve to win but we did, and the second game we played better and lost,” said Truitt. “At Kamloops we generated a lot of chances, hit a bunch of posts and Bolton (former Rebels netminder Pouliot) made a couple of big saves. We had chances but they (Blazers) capitalized.
“When we want into Kelowna we just wanted to see what they (Rockets) are all about. Well, they’re a good team. We got down 4-0 early and it was a tall task to come back from there. But we rebounded against Kootenay and played our best game of the trip. We were solid from start to finish and did a lot of good things strategically, then got another great effort from everyone in Lethbridge.”
• If defenceman Matt Dumba returns to the Red Deer Rebels, it’s unlikely to be any time soon.
Dumba appeared in his 10th regular-season NHL game with the Minnesota Wild in a 3-2 shootout win over the host Carolina Hurricanes Saturday, which ignited the first year of his three-year entry level contract. Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be with the Wild the remainder of the season, since the next key mark is 41 games, which will start the hands moving on his seven-year free-agency clock.
“For it to be my 10th game in the position I’m in is nice, but I have to keep building from there and hopefully I get the 20th game and 30th game and so on,” Dumba told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune prior to Saturday’s contest.
“You have to give credit where credit is due,” said Truitt. “Matt worked hard and impressed, got into a few games and then into his 10th game, and good for him. That’s what the major junior business is all about — developing these guys.”