Red Deer Rebels forward Jace Isley makes a move in the offensive zone Saturday night against the Winnipeg Ice at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Red Deer Rebels forward Jace Isley makes a move in the offensive zone Saturday night against the Winnipeg Ice at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Rebels lose to league-best Winnipeg Ice 5-1

Powerplay goals in second period sink Rebels

ICE 5 Rebels 1

It was a frustrating Saturday night for the Red Deer Rebels.

In a battle between the top two teams in the Western Hockey League (WHL), the Winnipeg ICE got the upper hand on the Rebels 5-1.

The ICE proved why they remain on top of the Canadian Hockey League’s power rankings with a dominant performance at the Peavey Mart Centrium.

Heading into Saturday, Winnipeg beat the Rebels in a pair of contests in November.

Winnipeg was responsible for ending Red Deer’s historic 15-0 start to the 2022-23 campaign handing the Rebels their first two losses.

A second-period push by the ICE to score three straight goals, including two on the powerplay, sunk the Rebels.

Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk said overall the effort was there at times but added the second period was a tough 20 minutes for the Rebels.

“Not just the goals but the emotion, the energy. The adversity we hit in the second period– we seemed to give into it a little bit instead of digging in. Just really having a lot of emotion and enthusiasm which is usually a pretty good quality of our team,” he said.

“That second period was frustrating in that way and we definitely got to learn from it.”

Winnipeg got off to a quick start in the first period scoring a minute and a half in when forward Connor McClennon fired a shot into the back of the net.

The Rebels struggled to get many offensive opportunities but despite that, they were only down a goal heading into the break.

In the middle frame, the game began to unravel for the Rebels. Defenceman Karter Prosofsky notched his first goal of the season to give Winnipeg a 2-0 lead.

Just a few minutes later the Ice scored back-to-back powerplay goals. The first came at the 5:49 mark scored by Matthew Savoie and the second at 6:49 off the stick of Zack Ostapchuk.

A stoppage of play gave Konowalchuk some time to rally his troops down 4-0. The quick huddle seemed to motivate the team who appeared to score not long after when a point shot was redirected in by Carson Birnie.

However, after a review by the officials, the goal was called back after they determined Birnie made contact with the goaltender.

Konowalchuk said he wasn’t sure what else Birnie could have done in front of the net. He added in no way did the officials decide the game but the calls were frustrating.

A fight from Jace Isley sparked the home side briefly, as Mats Lindgren notched his seventh of the season with three minutes left in the period.

At the midway point of the third period forward Vladislav Shilo notched the ICE’s fifth goal of the game to secure the win.

The Rebels bench boss said the ICE’s powerplay goals in the second period were part of what ultimately decided the game. Red Deer only converted on the man advantage once meanwhile, the Ice went two for five.

“We had powerplays early too but we weren’t very sharp on. Maybe they could make it a 1-1 game… That’s three games in a row against these guys that we haven’t won the special teams battle. Part of that is taking penalties and the other part is executing on both sides,” he added.

Despite the loss, Konowalchuk believes his team can play much better than what they showed.

“That’s a good team over there,” he said.

“For me, it’s more looking at what we can do differently and really again it boils down to that second period. We made some mistakes and instead of fighting through adversity, we fell flat. We’ve got to learn from it.

“I know our guys are better than that and I know we’ll be better than that.”

Next up for the Rebels, they’ll host Connor Bedard and the Regina Pats on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in front of a sold-out crowd at the Peavey Mart Centrium.

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Red Deer Rebels forward Kai Uchacz takes a shot on net against the Winnipeg Ice Saturday night at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Red Deer Rebels forward Kai Uchacz takes a shot on net against the Winnipeg Ice Saturday night at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

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