Tigers 5 Rebels 0
So now what?
The Red Deer Rebels outshot the Medicine Hat Tigers 33-21 Saturday and carried more than their share of the play, yet they came out on the short end of a 5-0 count and are down 2-0 in a WHL Eastern Conference semifinal which continues Tuesday at Medicine Hat.
Tigers netminder Tyler Bunz, a Rebels’ killer during the regular season, was lights out while Rebels netminder Darcy Kuemper coughed up his third soft goal of the series.
Kuemper, though, wasn’t the villain this time, as the Rebels were zero-for-nine on the power play and are now oh-for-16 with a man advantage through two games.
“At the end of the day special teams were the difference,” said Rebels head coach/VP of hockey operations Jesse Wallin.
“We didn’t have enough sense of urgency on our power play. We didn’t manage the puck well enough and we didn’t win enough battles to allow ourselves to get set up, and it was the same thing on the penalty kill.”
Indeed, the Tigers were two-for-four on the power play and are eight-for-15 with the man advantage through two games.
The visitors potted the only goal they needed 16 minutes into the contest when Hunter Shinkaruk beat Kuemper from a sharp angle. The play should have been whistled dead on an off-side at the blue-line.
That was break No. 1 for the visitors.
Break No. 2 came at 8:48 of the second period when a point shot by Jace Coyle deflected off Cole Grbavac and past Kuemper with the Tigers on the power play.
Linden Vey followed with a breakaway goal at 14:57 of the middle frame and Emerson Etem notched a power-play marker five minutes later.
“We had a tough break on their first goal, which was three feet offside. That’s tough to swallow but that happens in the playoffs,” said Wallin. “You have to be able to respond and I thought in the second period that we didn’t play with enough sense of urgency.”
Grbavac, who was anything but an offensive threat during the regular season, potted his second goal of the night and sixth of the playoffs 62 seconds into the final frame.
“For us, to give up eight power play goals in two nights is unacceptable,” said Wallin. “We allowed them to score far too easily.
“We need more from some individuals right now, that’s the reality of it. We need some guys to step up for us and raise their level.. If we get that we can chip away and get ourselves back into the series. We need some guys to raise their level.”