The Swift Current Broncos power play torched the Red Deer Rebels on Sunday.
The WHL’s hottest team on the man-advantage converted four times on six opportunities to sink the Rebels 5-1 in Swift Current.
Alexsi Heponiemi had a four-point night with a power play tally and three assists and defenceman Artyom Minulin scored twice with the extra man. Matteo Gennaro also chipped in two goals in the win, one of which was on the power play.
“They got four power play goals on us and we took some bad penalties. They have a very good power play. We didn’t generate enough offensively to do enough as far as score goals,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said.
“Five-on-five we were okay. They’re an older group and they have top-end skill.”
The loss was the Rebels eighth in a row and they have just one victory in their last 20 games.
Sutter added that it was a tough weekend for his squad after losses in Saskatoon and Prince Albert, in two games that were winnable instead they were only able to pick up one point.
“The first two games we could have had four points, but you only get one. (Sunday) we’re playing a much older team and a team that’s a very good hockey team and we got into penalty trouble,” Sutter said.
Heponiemi wired a shot through traffic on the man-advantage for the Broncos just 5:14 into the game. With the goal, the Finish forward has the longest point streak in the WHL this season at 22 games.
Rebels forward Kristian Reichel sniped his 14th goal of the year from the top of the circle on the power play. The 19-year-old centre made his return from a fourth-place finish with the Czech Republic at the World Juniors on Sunday.
Only 26 seconds later Gennaro buried a shot off the crossbar and in past Rebels goalie Riley Lamb. That goal really zapped momentum from the Rebels.
“That shift was a tough one, we turned the puck over in the slot and it ended up in our net,” Sutter said. “You have to make that play, you can’t turn it over at that point. “
Gennaro notched his 28th of the year and second of the first frame on the power play with under five minutes to play in the period. Heponiemi made a great cross-crease pass to Gennaro for the tally.
Broncos defenceman Artyom Minulin added another marker with just 1:04 left in the frame.
Swift Current went three-for-three on the power play in the opening 20 minutes.
Riley Lamb started the game for Red Deer but was pulled after allowing four goals on 17 shots in the first.
Neither team was able to generate much offence in the second period, with the Rebels registering just five shots and the Broncos putting three on Ethan Anders.
Minulin scored the only goal of the third at 6:11.
The Rebels were one-for-five on the power play.
Broncos goalie Joel Hofer stopped 19 shots in the win and Sylvan Lake native Tyler Steenbergen, fresh off scoring the golden goal for Canada at the World Juniors did not play.
Red Deer is back on the road Tuesday when they head to Lethbridge to take on the Hurricanes.