Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff Red Deer Rebel Evan Polei attempts to deflect a shot past Edmonton Oil Kings goaltender Patrick Dea earlier this season.

Rebels look for continual improvement to end regular season

The Red Deer Rebels will need to find a little bit of extra motivation this weekend after clinching both a playoff spot and third place in the WHL Central Division this week.

Red Deer will end the season with a home-and-home against the Edmonton Oil Kings starting Saturday at the Centrium.

Momentum will be a point of emphasis for the Rebels with the final two games, as they have won four straight heading into the last weekend of the regular season.

“These last couple games are good for momentum. Heading into a big series we need to keep playing the way we are,” forward Austin Glover said.

“The last four games have been pretty good for us. I think we just need to build on that and head into the playoffs confident.”

The last time the two teams met was a home-and-home after Christmas when the Rebels shutout the Oil Kings at home but lost 7-2 in Edmonton the following night.

Red Deer was also missing goalie Lasse Petersen, captain Adam Musil and Michael Spacek for those two contests.

Associate coach Jeff Truitt added that beyond the obvious momentum, treating each game individually and getting better every day before the playoffs get started is also important.

“Making sure that we’re continuing to get better leading into playoffs,” he said.

“You treat every game individually, the mission is not over yet and we’ve got a long way to go and we want to continue to strive to peak at the right time and continue to get better.”

Spacek has been on fire lately for the Rebels, with 15 points in his last eight games and has only been held pointless in three of the last 15 contests.

Red Deer’s leading point producer has been clicking with alternate captain Brandon Hagel, who has seven goals in his last four games and 11 points over that stretch.

Beyond those two, the Rebels have also got production up and down the lineup in the final weeks of the season, which will be vital to a deep playoff run.

“We’re getting offensive output from a lot of guys. Jordan Roy is come on fire here the last few games. That’s terrific. The line with Campese, him and Cutler or Douglas, those guys have really done a good job for us,” Truitt said.

“Hagel has been on a roll as well, Polei has contributed steadily, Spacek has been great. We’re getting solid efforts from a lot of guys. It just seems like we’re not talking about one or two guys, we’re talking about a lot.”

With an inexperienced defence core in the high pressure games down the stretch there has also been a steadying of the back end, something that Truitt believes will also play a big roll in the playoffs.

“Our back end has done a great job at keeping things simple,” he said. “We’re seeing the development of a year worth of teaching.”

byron.hackett@bprda.wpengine.com

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