The Red Deer Rebels have fashioned back-to-back victories on several occasions this season, but probably none have been as impressive as their latest two-games-in-24-hours winning streak.
Victories over the visiting Kootenay Ice and host Calgary Hitmen Tuesday and Wednesday have the Rebels believing they can stick with the elite teams of the league.
“Those two wins are huge for us,” Red Deer forward Landon Ferraro said Thursday. “This team hadn’t won in Calgary since the ‘06-07 year, so that was a big burden off our chest. Now we have another game against Calgary (tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Centrium) that we need to win. It’s important to us to keep moving up in the standings.”
The Rebels grabbed sole possession of fifth place in the Eastern Conference with Wednesday’s 5-4 shootout conquest at the Saddledome and are just five points back of the fourth-place Kootenay Ice with a game in hand.
It’s debatable whether Red Deer can catch the Ice at this late stage — with nine regular-season games remaining, albeit two versus Kootenay — and just maintaining the lead over the sixth-place Medicine Hat Tigers may prove to be difficult, but the Rebels are convinced that they’re now among the better teams in the league.
“That’s what we’ve been trying to prove, that we belong where we are, which is ahead of Medicine Hat right now,” said Ferraro. “It’s important for us to keep winning against these top teams and make sure we get our confidence up so that when we’re in the playoffs against Kootenay or a team around that mark, we’ll have some momentum on our side.
“We want to show these teams that we’re a team that’s going to be tough to beat come playoff time.”
Ferraro played only half of the Rebels’ first 38 games this season — his third with the club — due to a knee injury that placed him on the injured reserve list on two occasions, but since returning full time in early January he’s gradually picked up the pace. A 37-goal sniper last winter, Ferraro is currently producing at close to a point-per-game pace with 41 — including 14 goals — in 44 outings.
“I’ve been feeling very good although I’ve been a little snake-bitten as of late,” said the Detroit Red Wings prospect. “But I just have to keep it simple and keep taking as many shots as I can. The goals will start going in eventually, I’m not too worried about it. The main thing is we’re winning and I feel like I’m helping our team as much as I can.
“This is a feeling we haven’t had around here in a while, so it’s kind of hard to get down on yourself because your personal stuff isn’t working out as well as you’d want it to. I couldn’t be any happier right now. The goals are going to come and hopefully I’ll be able to help the team even more.”
l Aaron Borejko, who’s been out of action for three weeks with a shoulder injury, participated in a full practice Thursday in anticipation of his possible return to the Rebels lineup tonight.
Fellow defenceman Simon Witt, however, won’t be back any time soon. Further tests have revealed that the 17-year-old, who’s missed 16 games with what was originally called a groin injury, has cartilage problems in his hip joint and is out indefinitely.
l Waste Management of Canada, together with program partners the WHL and the Red Deer Food Bank Society, will conduct a food drive when the Rebels clash with the Prince Albert Raiders Wednesday at the Centrium.
Fans are being asked to bring a non-perishable food item to the game or to make a cash donation.