Rockets 2 Rebels 1
KELOWNA — The Red Deer Rebels came up short on the scoreboard on Wednesday, but were long on effort in a 2-1 Western Hockey League loss to the host Kelowna Rockets.
“I thought our effort was excellent today,” said Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin, whose squad skated stride for stride with the Rockets less than 24 hours after posting a 7-4 win over the Blazers in Kamloops.
“ I really liked our game, especially coming off last night with a really quick turnaround. We played last night, got in here at one in the morning and played a two-o’clock game against a fresh team.
“We didn’t concede anything to them. We came out and played a very good hockey game. We played well at both ends of the rink and had enough opportunities to win the game. Unfortunately, they scored on more opportunity than we did.”
The Rebels led 1-0 on Josh Cowen’s eighth goal of the season with two seconds remaining in the opening period, but Lucas Bloodoff evened the count with a power-play tally at 8:19 of the second period and Kyle St. Denis potted the winner with less than six minutes left in the game played in front of 6,169 fans at Prospera Place.
“We played a better hockey game tonight than last night, but we just couldn’t generate enough goals despite having lots of chances,” said Wallin, whose club aimed 33 shots at Rockets netminder Adam Brown while Darcy Kuemper faced 29 for Red Deer.
On Tuesday, the Rebels fell behind 1-0 while being outshot and outplayed through the first 10 minutes before a crowd of 4,173 at Kamloops Interior Savings Centre. But following the mid-period timeout, the visitors came alive.
“We talked about getting back to work and getting our feet moving and kind of took over from there,” said Wallin, who saw his club get goals from Cullen Morin, Brett Ferguson (power play) and Cowen before the period ended for a 3-1 lead.
Andrej Kudrna (power play) upped the count to 4-1 before the Blazers responded with goals from Giffen Nyren and Dylan Willick prior to the second intermission.
Kudrna connected again 4:41 into the third period and Tyler Shattock brought the Blazers back to within one with his second goal of the evening two minutes later, setting the stage for Cowen’s second of the night and Kudrna’s third — into an empty net — with 69 seconds remaining.
“We showed some resilience,” said Wallin, in reference to the Rebels’ ability to bounce back whenever the Blazers posed a threat. “We gave up a few more opportunities than I wanted to see, but overall we played pretty well.”
The Rebels opened their five-game B.C. trip with an overtime win over the Kootenay Ice and fell just short of posting a third straight road win on Wednesday.
“No question, I really like the way our team is playing right now,” said Wallin. “It was a disappointing loss today, but the message in the room was if we continue to play and work hard with that kind of pack mentality, we’ll come out on top more often than not.”
The Rebels are in Vancouver on Friday to face the Giants and conclude their road trip with a Saturday night date with the Chilliwack Bruins.
Red Deer’s next home game is on Nov. 21 versus the Spokane Chiefs.