In just his third Western Hockey League regular season start in net, Red Deer Rebels goaltender Kyle Kelsey got his first shutout in a 5-0 win Friday night at the Peavey Mart Centrium.
The Rebels began their weekend homestand on a high note against their division rival Lethbridge Hurricanes in dominant fashion.
Kelsey, who made 26 saves between the pipes, said it felt amazing to capture this career milestone.
“The boys played an amazing game. They made it really easy for me keeping the shots to the outside. I mean I can’t take much credit for that,” he said.
The 18-year-old said the last three games have been great in building his confidence and hopes to continue his success.
After trading multiple scoring chances in the opening period forward Kalan Lind scored his first of the season 16 minutes into the frame. Just last week, Lind was ranked 25th on TSN analysts’ Craig Button’s top 2023 NHL Draft prospects list.
Both goalies made highlight reel saves in the second period including a sprawling right pad stop by Kelsey on a Hurricanes breakaway.
“I had to put my leg down because my leg was going up and then I saw him try to sneak it under. I just got a piece of it,” Kelsey added.
Head coach of the Rebels Steve Konowalchuk gave Kelsey credit saying he played a great game.
“Congratulations to him for a game like that. First shutout, with some traffic there on him he was able to fight through and make a couple big saves for us,” Konowalchuk said.
”I think anytime you have success it builds confidence. The only way to really build confidence is to go out and work and to have some success… Obviously he’s a young kid like the rest of our guys. There’s areas that he’s going to need to improve on or want to but he works at it every day.”
After a scoreless middle frame, the Rebels extended their lead 2-0 off the stick of defenceman Hunter Mayo who fired in his fourth tally of the season.
With just over four minutes left the Hurricanes pulled their goaltender in an attempt to break the shutout but a turnover in the neutral zone was costly for Lethbridge as Kai Uchacz tucked in the game-winning empty net goal.
Two minutes after, Jace Isley scored followed by Jhett Larson less than 10 seconds after that. After Friday night, Mayo, Uchacz, and Larson are all tied for the team lead in goals with four.
Konowalchuk added he thought his team was good defensively blocking a lot of shots in the defensive zone, especially on the penalty kill.
“I thought for the most part coming back to the house and helping [Kelsey] out and trying to get the other team to not have a whole lot of clean looks,” he said.
“It’s interesting, I thought our first two periods were quite a bit better than our third period but we ended up scoring goals in the third period. Our first two periods I thought we did a lot of things well. I thought we played more time in the offensive zone but we didn’t get rewarded for it.”
The Rebels are back in action Saturday night at the Peavey Mart Centrium in another Central Division matchup against the Calgary Hitmen at 7 p.m.