The Red Deer Rebels can’t count.
A game consists of 60 minutes, not 40, as the Western Hockey League club was apparently unaware of during the past week.
The Rebels were less than consistent during the weekend, in particular, letting down in the second period against each of the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers and Everett Silvertips. Red Deer managed to pull out a 4-2 win over the Tigers on Friday, but Saturday’s lapse proved costly as the ‘Tips skated away with a 3-0 victory.
“I don’t know exactly what (the problem) is. I guess we’re a group that’s still learning how to win,” said Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin, following Saturday’s contest in which the Silvertips got two goals from Radko Gudas, a single off the stick of Daniel Iwanski and a 41-save effort from Thomas Heemskerk.
“We have to get used to handling success. Handling adversity is one thing, but it’s also about handling success and how to sustain that, how to sustain solid play. We seem to get complacent at times, where we start feeling good about ourselves and kind of let off the gas a bit.
“We have to find a way to overcome that. We need a consistent 60 minutes, because when we play for 60 minutes we’re a good hockey team that’s tough to play against.”
The Rebels were dominant through Saturday’s first period, firing 20 shots at Heemskerk without finding the back of the net.
The original plan was to continue on with the same plan of attack, but instead the visitors held a 13-8 advantage in shots during the middle frame and came out with a 2-0 lead.
“We had them on the ropes in the first period and didn’t score and get a lead,” said Wallin. “We wanted to work their defence down low and wear then down and try and force them into taking penalties, but we didn’t do that in the second period. We allowed them to get a little momentum and they scored on the opportunities they had.”
The Rebels went back to work in the final 20 minutes, outshooting the visitors 13-4 but again running into roadblocks in the form of Heemskerk and an Everett defensive style that was numbing to watch but effective in every sense of the word.
“I thought we came out in the third and created some opportunities and carried the play,” said Wallin, whose club dropped back below the .500 mark at 8-9-0-0. “Ultimately it was a big game for us, I thought there were points on the table and it would have been a real good homestand for us this week to take all four points. It’s disappointing to be on the short end of it tonight.”
The Rebels have shown an ability to skate stride-for-stride with any team that has visited the Centrium this season. But again, only when they’ve gone all out, and recently that refusal to make hay all the way has cost them valuable points in their quest for a playoff berth that has been elusive the past two seasons.
“You can’t have lapses through a hockey game, whether it be five, 10 or 20 minutes,” said Wallin.
“We need to focus on a 60-minute effort and with the guys in the dressing room there has to be some self-motivation there as well, it can’t always come from the coaches. We need guys who are willing to step up when the team starts to lull. We need someone in there to give us a spark.”
The Rebels are idle until Friday, when the Kootenay Ice come calling for a 7:30 p.m. engagement.