Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter isn’t one to make excuses, but there’s no way he can overlook a road trip from hell.
The Rebels played three games in a little over 48 hours in three different cities, finishing Sunday afternoon against the top-ranked team in the country, the Regina Pats.
The Rebels opened with a 5-2 loss in Brandon on Friday afternoon, traveled to Moose Jaw and pulled out a heart-stopping 8-7 overtime decision over the Warriors Saturday evening and then it was off to Regina for an afternoon game, which saw the host Pats take an 8-4 victory.
“To me it wasn’t a reasonable schedule,” said Sutter, who was in Swift Current Monday preparing for a Tuesday meeting with the Broncos before the club heads home.
“We don’t make excuses, but you could see the guys lose their legs when it was 4-2 (against Regina). Also we took some bad penalties and most of those were from being tired.”
Still Sutter wasn’t pleased with the team’s defensive effort.
“We gave up 20 goals in three games, that’s not the way we can and have to play. The defence didn’t respond against good teams and we didn’t play as hard as we know we can … we didn’t play a two-way game. As well our goaltenders have been a bit off of late.
“Some individuals had strong games, while some others didn’t. Right now we’re not where we need to be, but we’ll get out of it.”
Two individuals Sutter were looking to get more out of was Jeff De Wit and Adam Musil.
“We have only two goals out of two of our centres,” he said following the Brandon loss.
But Sutter moved de Wit to right wing and he played some of his best hockey of the season, as did Musil.
“Jeff played much, much better,” said Sutter. “He responded well to the move and was where we need him to be. We need him to produce and to play with emotion. I know being a local kid there’s always more pressure on him, but the last three games he’s played like we know he can.”
De Wit scored in Moose Jaw and Regina while Musil contributed a single marker in Moose Jaw.
“Adam is a horse … a big guy who plays a tough game, which we need. He’s a guy hard to find and every team in the league would like to have. I thought he played well this weekend.”
Austin Pratt, Carson Sass and Brandon Hagel also scored against the Pats, who led 2-1 after the first period and 6-2 after 40 minutes.
Connor Hobbs and Filip Ahl scored twice each and Chase Harrison, Jake Leschyshyn, Sam Steel and Adam Brooks once each for the Pats.
Lasse Petersen was in goal for all eight goals and yet couldn’t be faulted as he finished with 53 saves. Tyler Brown had 17 saves for Regina.
On Saturday, Hagel’s third goal of the game at 3:03 of overtime gave the Rebels their third victory of the season over the Warriors.
Sass, Evan Polei, and Michael Spacek added single markers.
Riley Lamb started in goal and allowed six goals on 34 shots over 39 minutes, 10 seconds. Petersen came on and faced five shots, allowing one goal, that to Dakota Odgers at 8:32 of the third period, which tied the game.
Luka Burzan had two goals for the hosts with singles added by Tanner Jeannot, Jayden Halbgewachs, Brayden Watts and Nikita Popugaev. Brody Willms went the distance for the Warriors, making 37 saves.
The Rebels are at home Friday for a 7 p.m. contest against the Medicine Hat Tigers.