Broncos 4 Rebels 1
The Red Deer Rebels did not look themselves Saturday night as they lost 4-1 to the Swift Current Broncos.
With the last game before Christmas break, it appeared their minds may have been elsewhere and couldn’t get much momentum going on both ends of the ice.
Head coach Steve Konowalchuk put it simply postgame that they weren’t ready and were not sharp.
“We could never really get it going and we had chances to get back in that hockey game but when you’re just not that sharp good things don’t happen,” he said.
“We weren’t physically ready to compete on enough pucks… A frustrating game for the players, a frustrating game for the coaching staff as well.”
The Rebels were caught on their heels and out of position early on in the game when the Broncos struck first, 40 seconds into the opening frame off the stick of Owen Pickering.
At the five-minute mark, the Broncos extended their lead 2-0 when forward Connor Hvidston went coast to coast and fed a wide-open Brady Birnie in front of the net.
He wouldn’t be the only Birnie to find the back of the net in the first period. Nearly two minutes later while on a line change Rebels Carson Birnie came off the bench with a full head of steam and capitalized on a turnover in the offensive zone alone in front to snipe it top shelf.
At the midway point of the period, the Broncos went up 3-1 off a nice passing play from Birnie to Luke Mistelbacher who fired it in.
After a scoreless second period, the Rebels had a golden opportunity on the powerplay after the Broncos were given a five-minute game misconduct for a knee-on-knee hit on Rebels forward Frantisek Formanek. Red Deer could not capitalize on the chance and did not have success on the man advantage failing to score on four opportunities.
“I don’t want to talk about that game with the players a whole lot tonight I wanted them to get away for a week mentally. In the big picture they’ve pushed pretty hard in most games all first half,” he added.
“Through adversity, even going back yesterday in Medicine Hat, when things didn’t go our way usually they’re able to get in and push through adversity and find ways to get themselves going. It didn’t happen tonight and obviously, we’ve got to learn from that.”
Broncos goaltender Alexander Gage was great for the Broncos making 30 saves in the contest. Rebels Kyle Kelsey made 22 saves on 25 shots.
The team looked at times like they lacked energy during the matchup. Could it be fatigue? Mental? Physical? Either way, Konowalchuk didn’t make excuses for his team.
“We’ve been in that situation before and we’ve been able to overcome it. I don’t know if it was a combination of playing with one less guy with the break coming on. We can make excuses forever…
“We’ll talk about it when we get back from the break and when we get back we’re right into it. A lot of hockey games and it’s a learning experience for sure.”
The Rebels will be back in action on Dec. 27 against the Edmonton Oil Kings at the Peavey Mart Centrium at 7 p.m. to kick off a four-game week.