The Red Deer Rebels might feel like going back on the road after coming back from B.C.
After sweeping a four-game road trip out west and riding a high, the Rebels returned home and dropped a 6-4 game Wednesday in Calgary.
It was another sub-par effort Friday, with a 3-2 loss at the Centrium to the Prince Albert Raiders.
The power play was a real eyesore in the return home, going just 1-for-8 in the contest against the Raiders. That included only one shot on a full two minute 5-on-3 late in the third trailing by one and four straight misses on the man advantage in the final frame.
“It was a reflection of what the score was, it was kind of a ho-hum game. It was a game where I didn’t think we had enough intensity or emotion. Wasn’t enough urgency,” said a frustrated Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter postgame.
“What bothers me is it’s two games in a row. Your best players have to be your best players. Look at the power plays tonight, you get a 5-on-3 for two minutes and you get one shot on net. You lose every faceoff on the power play.”
From the puck drop, the Rebels chased the game, as Raiders veteran forward picked a corner on Ethan Anders just 14 seconds into the first period.
Jordy Stallard added a late opening frame tally for the Raiders and Red Deer was only briefly able to dig out of the hole.
The brief spark for Red Deer came at 3:02 of the second, when rookie Alex Morozoff picked the puck off the half-wall and drove to the net before firing a shot past Raiders goalie Ian Scott. It was the Saskatoon native’s fifth goal of the campaign.
Josh Tarzwell notched his ninth of the season late in the second after a Jacob Herauf point shot hit him in front and bounced over Scott’s shoulder. That was the only power play marker the Rebels could muster on the night.
Less than 90 seconds later, Brett Leason buried a loose puck past Anders to restore the Raiders lead.
Sutter was critical of his leadership in the loss, saying that when your top players don’t bring their best effort, it filters throughout the whole lineup.
“It’s not the way we want to play, come back off the road trip and some things have crept in that bother me that I saw earlier in the year. Now we have to see what the character of the group is like moving forward. How they’re going to handle it. It starts with your captain and it works right down through the line,” Sutter said.
“Your older guys have to lead now. They can’t be followers. The last two games our best players haven’t been our best players and it’s hurt us.”
Despite the Raiders owning the second-ranked penalty kill in the WHL, Sutter also said his team has just gotten away from the things that made them successful on the power play earlier in the month.
“When our power play is working well, we are working and shooting pucks. We’re getting into areas to battle and win those pucks. Tonight you look at the shots, they came from the outside and we never have any second or third opportunities,” Sutter said.
“The power play is the easiest thing to do if you get into the zone, get set up and start shooting pucks. It’s not a hard thing to do. But if guys don’t want to shoot, they want to make the pretty play or the perfect play, the power play struggles.”
Red Deer will host the Swift Current Broncos on Saturday night at the Centrium.