Red Deer Rebels forward Mason McCarty celebrates a goal in the first period of the home opener at the Centrium on Saturday night. Red Deer beat the Oil Kings 7-3 to start the season. (Photo by Byron Hackett/Advocate Staff)

Rebels rout Oil Kings in home opener

Good things came in threes for the Red Deer Rebels in their home opener.

Four players finished with one, goal two assist performances in a Rebels 7-3 rout of the Edmonton Oil Kings on Saturday night.

Brandon Hagel, Kristian Reichel, Mason McCarty and Austin Pratt counted three-point nights in the dominant victory and defenceman Alex Alexeyev also had a three-assist night.

“We found a way to score seven goals but I would like to see us play better five-on-five,” Rebels Gm/head coach Brent Sutter said. “It’s game one, but it has nothing to do with hard work. We worked hard, but we need to be more disciplined in our team game and more disciplined by not taking more penalties.”

Captain Grayson Pawlenchuk might have been the happiest man at the Centrium, earning first star honours after two goals in the third period. He missed almost all of last season for the Rebels with multiple injuries.

“Felt good to get back and playing again. Getting that first one out of the way was good. It’s been a while since my last goal in the regular season,” he said.

The 20-year-old scored his last WHL goal on Nov. 1, 2016.

In the home opener last year, the Oil Kings bested the Rebels 3-2 in overtime and beat Red Deer four of the other five matchups on the season. Saturday was clearly revenge time for the Rebels.

Red Deer showed off their new-found speed most of the night and were able to keep the Oil Kings on their heels for the majority of the game.

“At times we were fine but it’s using our hockey sense and intelligence and being better as far as playing smart with the puck. We’ll get better,” Sutter said.

Austin Pratt scored the first Rebels goal of the season, when he collected a loose puck while Oil Kings goalie Travis Child was without a stick and put a quick forehand home at 7:08 of the first.

Off the rush with just under two minutes to play in the period, Hagel dropped the puck back to McCarty and the veteran fired a wicked wrist shot past Child. McCarty, acquired from the Saskatoon Blades in the off-season, returned to the team that drafted him and had three points.

Akash Bains stumbled on a shorthanded breakaway late in the second period, but from the ice found Reese Johnson who in turn snuck the puck in for the third goal of the night.

“Definitely awesome for him, he’s had more injury problems than I have. He’s been out for a while, it’s definitely huge for him to get that first one,” Pawlenchuk said.

Johnson’s last WHL goal came on Jan. 20, 2016.

Fresh off a stint with the Buffalo Sabres, Hagel assisted on two first-period goals before cashing in on a chance of his own late in the second period. Hagel buried a one-timer off a nifty feed from defenceman Alex Alexeyev.

Sutter said overall, he was happy with the win but expects a more complete effort from his team as the season goes on.

“It was game 1 and they will get better. They’ve proven they can be better. In game 1, as a player there’s a lot of excitement and sometimes it can over take you a bit and that happened for some guys,” Sutter said.

Lasse Petersen was solid in his first WHL game as a 20-year-old with 30 saves in the victory.

The two teams are back in action in Edmonton on Sunday afternoon.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fear of foreign worker shortage impacts veggie production

Innisfail-area grower cut back vegetables that need to be hand picked by one-third

Red Deer singer weathers natural disasters to create an upbeat new tune

Alecia Aichelle says you have to seek out the positives — even under lockdown

Red Deer RCMP looking for missing 49-year-old woman

Red Deer RCMP are looking to verify the well-being of Tracey Church.… Continue reading

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Lethbridge police chief says officers surveilling cabinet minister inexcusable

Alta. — The head of the Lethbridge Police Service in southern Alberta… Continue reading

Sources say Canada, U.S. travel ban likely to continue into late August

WASHINGTON — Canada and the United States are now widely expected to… Continue reading

Manitoba sees first new COVID-19 cases in two weeks

WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s 13-day streak without new COVID-19 infections ended Tuesday as… Continue reading

B.C.’s budget surges to $12.5 billion deficit because of pandemic

VICTORIA — British Columbia’s balanced budget has been shattered by the COVID-19… Continue reading

Maxwell denied bail on Epstein-related sex abuse charges

NEW YORK — Jeffrey Epstein’s former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, will remain behind… Continue reading

Monahan, Lindholm, Gaudreau await reunion at Calgary Flames camp

CALGARY — Johnny Gaudreau’s separation from his linemates continued into the second… Continue reading

Trump administration rescinds rule on foreign students

BOSTON — Facing eight federal lawsuits and opposition from hundreds of universities,… Continue reading

Trump signs bill, order rebuking China, and slams Biden

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed legislation and an executive… Continue reading

Most Read