Rebels 6 Hurricanes 1
In the end, the Rebels were right back where they started heading into the weekend, three points out of top spot in the Central division.
After losing on the road in Lethbridge on Friday, the Rebels avenged the loss with a convincing 6-1 win back in Red Der on Saturday.
Conner Bleackley had three assists on the night and a goal shy of the Gordie Howe hat trick as he dropped the mitts with Red Deer native Andrew Nielsen late in the third period.
“To see what we did tonight, five penalties in the first period and the shots were even, it was only a matter of time before the goals started going in,” said Bleackley. “It was probably the best win of the season.”
Adam Helewka, Colton Bobyk, Hayden Fleury, Jake DeBrusk and Kayle Doetzel each had a goal and an assist.
It was the second period where the Rebels opened the game wide open with five goals within the opening 11 minutes of the frame.
“The power play got us a couple of huge goals,” said Rebels head coach/GM Brent Sutter of Helewka and Brandon Hagel’s power play markers. “It was a solid, solid effort by the kids. They played hard and came here with purpose tonight and that was important.”
A parade to the penalty box dogged the Rebels throughout the first period. The Rebels spent nearly half the period a man down courtesy of penalties. Including a 10-minute misconduct to Bobyk at 17:32 of the opening frame.
The top-ranked Hurricanes power play was held in check in the first period. They had five power plays in the frame, but the Rebels penalty killers limited chances.
“Penalty killing was huge tonight, we killed five minors off in the first period and another one in the second,” said Sutter. “Special teams were significant for us tonight.
“We needed a response after Friday night. Friday was one of our weaker games we had in a while, our effort wasn’t where it needed to be. Saturday we responded well. It’s about work ethic and playing the game the right way.”
The goals came fast and furious for the Rebels in the second starting just a minute into the frame. Fleury shot the puck in deep, but a lively bounce off the end boards gave DeBrusk a chance to jam it in under Sittler’s skate, putting the Rebels up 2-0.
Doetzel gave the Rebels a commanding lead about a minute later picking up a loose puck. Musil had the puck alone behind in the net and was able to carry it out to the front and got a shot off, but Sittler made the initial save, Doetzel connected on the rebound.
Helewka’s 39th goal of the season came on the Rebels first powerplay of the night. With a clear path to the net, his wrist shot from the slot beat Sittler glove side. Sittler was given the hook in favour of Skinner after the goal that put the Rebels up 4-0.
Skinner barely had any time to get into the game when Hayden Fleury scored his first of the night, putting the Rebels up 5-0.
After Hagel put the Rebels up 6-0, the Hurricanes got their first more than halfway into the second from forward Tyler Wong.
Bobyk opened the scoring with a point shot that found its way through the traffic in front of Sittler. Nikolishin and Bleackley set up the play by shedding a defender and then getting the puck to the point.
After losing the first five meetings this season, the Rebels notched their first win over the division leading Hurricanes.
“The reason this team has had success against us is the odd man rushes, they’re probably the quickest transition team in the league,” said Bleackley. “We did a good job making smart plays and getting pucks behind them and when the puck was turned over, we were on top of guys quick.”
The Rebels have three games left in the regular season, starting with a home game against the Calgary Hitmen. Puckdrop is at 7 p.m.
Notes: The Rebels gave thanks to their host families before puckdrop with flowers and hugs by the Zamboni entrance … Red Deer native Jayden Sittler got the start for the Lethbridge Hurricanes … defenceman Hayden Fleury returned to the lineup after serving a one game suspension for a hit from behind on March 8 against the Prince Albert Raiders … Called up from Yorkton recently 16-year-old Carson Sass played meaningful minutes including on the power play.