The Red Deer Rebels simply played uninspired hockey against the Moose Jaw Warriors.
For much of the night, the Warriors had their way with the Rebels and rolled to their eighth straight win after a 3-2 victory Saturday at the Centrium.
Besides Rebels goalie Byron Fancy, who finished the night with 43 saves, Red Deer was not able to match the Warriors pace and intensity. Moose Jaw outshot Red Deer 30-11 in the final two periods of the game.
“It was supposed to be a great day for hockey but unfortunately, we came out on the wrong end of the stick. We were obviously outplayed. What else do you say?” Quipped Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter.
“Our top players weren’t good. We didn’t push at all. We got outplayed and outworked in a lot of areas. I don’t know what we had, 12 or 13 shots after two periods and they had 40. Tells you we didn’t have the puck a whole lot. Our goalie played well.”
Sutter was also quick to credit the Warriors, who have only lost twice on the road this season and were able to shut the Rebels down with ease through the final 40 minutes of the game.
“Let’s not take anything away from their team. They played extremely well and they have all year. That’s why they only have five losses,” Sutter said.
“They play a good team game, they are on the right side of pucks and they don’t give up odd-man rushes. They keep the game simple. They support each other well– everything we stress with our group but you have to want to do it.”
Red Deer got behind the eight ball early, when Daemon Hunt opened the scoring for the Warriors with a wrist shot from the point that eluded Fancy.
Hagel responded just 39 seconds later for the Rebels. His tally tied the game at one and the hats rained down on Toque Toss Night.
Our Community Cruiser drove off ice tonight full of toques for the Red Deer Christmas Bureau Society… thank you fans!! And a special thank you to our Toque Toss volunteers from Premier Academy! #RDR pic.twitter.com/9AJnwfZYTm
— Red Deer Rebels (@Rebelshockey) December 2, 2018
The veteran slapped at a loose puck in the slot and managed to get it by Adam Evanoff for his 18th goal of the year. It was also his 222nd point as a Rebel, moving him into third on the team’s all-time point list.
Despite playing a less than stellar second period, Red Deer took a 2-1 advantage on a nice play from Chris Douglas. The Richmond, B.C. native drove wide and slid a nice pass to Zak Smith, who notched his sixth goal of the campaign.
Some porous defensive zone coverage from the Rebels allowed Moose Jaw back into the game early in the second.
Tate Popple notched the first tally 1:55 into the second on a wrister that beat Fancy glove side.
Less than three minutes later, Justin Almeida fired a shot off the crossbar and defenceman Jett Woo buried the rebound.
In the middle frame, Moose Jaw outshot the Rebels 18-5 and again in the third Red Deer only managed six shots.
“Top line tonight, minus two and there are reasons for it. We showed them video after the last two periods and what their tendencies are and it wasn’t that way two weeks ago,” Sutter said.
“When you’re not playing the fundamentals and details the right way, on a sheet of ice that’s as big as it is, you’re in trouble.”
Sutter added he has seen the problems creep into the Rebels’ game over the last several weeks and with four losses in their last five, the time is now to right the ship.
“These last five games and even (Friday), it was the same way. We have a lot of work. That’s alright too,” Sutter said.
“It’s December 1 and it’s something that we just need to continue to work at and get better. Teams go through different periods in the year– you go through adversity and it’s just how you deal with it. Work with it and make yourself better.”
Red Deer also had newly acquired Brett Davis in the lineup for his first game Saturday. He was acquired in a big trade on Friday from the Kootenay Ice and flew in from Seattle Saturday. Sutter said it was tough to evaluate given all the 19-year-old had been through during the last 48 hours.
“He got in here right before game time. For his first game, not knowing anybody and going through it with the coaches, I thought he handled himself well,” Sutter said.
“You can tell he’s got skill and he’s savy and smart. He’s playing with new linemates and new teammates, there’s going to be a settling in period.”