The Calgary Hitmen didn’t do the Red Deer Rebels any Western Hockey League favours Tuesday, nor did the Brandon Wheat Kings.
But the Saskatoon Blades lent the Rebels a helping hand.
The Hitmen were bounced 8-1 at Prince Albert, allowing the Raiders to take over sole possession of seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
The Swift Current Broncos, meanwhile, were 3-2 losers at Saskatoon and remain tied with Red Deer for eighth place, with each team possessing 48 points, one back of the Raiders and two behind the sixth-place Moose Jaw Warriors, who pulled out a 2-0 win over the visiting Wheat Kings.
All of which meant little to Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin, whose club will open a four-game tour of the B.C. Division tonight against the Prince George Cougars.
“We can’t focus on the other teams, we just have to make sure that we’re doing what we have to do, and that’s playing at the top of our game and continuing to get as many points as we can,” Wallin said Tuesday as the team bus approached Prince George.
“It’s tight now and it’s going to be tight the rest of the way. We have to make sure we take care of our own business; the rest we can’t control.”
The Rebels will continue their trip Friday at Kamloops and will visit Kelowna and Chilliwack Saturday and Sunday.
“It’s not a bad thing to be out on the road,” said Wallin.
“We haven’t had a long trip since November (to B.C.) and it’s an opportunity for the boys to get together. The goal remains the same though, home or away, and we all realize that every game is big at this time of the year.”
Wallin hopes to have winger Andrej Kudrna back in the lineup tonight. He missed Saturday’s 2-1 road loss to Kootenay with a minor knee injury which occurred late in Friday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the visiting Broncos.
Meanwhile, defenceman Nick Bell is close to returning to action after missing 30 games with an ankle injury.
“He’s feeling good. Today (before the team left Red Deer) was his first full practice,” said Wallin.
“He’ll skate again Wednesday and will likely play at some point on the trip.”
Centre Nathan Green remains out with a leg fracture and isn’t expected to return to active duty until early March.
• Rebels second-year defenceman Alex Petrovic is No. 34 in Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings of North American skaters eligible for this year’s NHL entry draft.
Red Deer product and Tri-City Americans winger Justin Feser is ranked 154th.
Ontario Hockey League forwards Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin are ranked one-two, with Prince George forward Brett Connolly ranked fourth overall and first among WHL players.