Rebels 3 Pats 1
The Red Deer Rebels weren’t tossing any heavyweight blows Friday night, but were still good enough to deliver what might have been a knockout punch to the Regina Pats.
“It was kind of a tough game, a difficult game. It was a bit of a battle and we weren’t at our best tonight,” said Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin, following a 3-1 Western Hockey League win over the Pats before a recorded gathering of 4,781 at the Centrium.
“Yet I thought we worked pretty hard. We did the little things well for the most part. We were solid in our own end of the rink, although we just didn’t seem to have the jump we usually have. We wanted to come out hard and have a real good start, but it was one of those nights where we didn’t have the jump we usually do. You’re going to have nights like that and you have to find ways to gut it out and win those games and I thought tonight was a gutsy effort that way.”
The Rebels moved seven points clear of the seventh-place Prince Albert Raiders in the Eastern Conference, while the Pats, who were arguably the better team through the second half of the contest, remain five points out of the final playoff spot and have played three more games than the eighth-place Moose Jaw Warriors.
“We picked up a huge two points against a desperate team,” said Wallin. “We saw some different things from them as far as their transition in the neutral zone and a couple of different plays they were trying to make in the offensive zone. I thought that put us on our heels a bit where we were trying to adjust, but I’m proud of our guys. They found a way to win, it’s a big two points and the message in the room is to enjoy it briefly and get ready to be at our best (tonight against the visiting Raiders).”
The Rebels led 1-0 after one period on a goal by Andrej Kudrna, who broke down the left side and drove a shot through the pads of Pats netminder Damien Ketlo.
Landon Ferraro doubled the count with a second-period breakaway goal, but Jordan Weal cut the deficit in half with a power-play marker for the visitors three minutes later. From there, the Pats mounted a decent attack but couldn’t find the equalizer, and Rebels defenceman Alex Petrovic sealed the deal with an empty-net goal in the final minute of the game.
“They have some very good players like (Jordan) Eberle and Weal. They’re dangerous guys, but we did a good job of taking the proper angles and containing them,” said Wallin. “We protected the middle of the rink for the most part and (Rebels netminder Darcy Kuemper) was there when we needed a big save and that was huge as well.”
Kuemper finished with 32 saves, one more than Ketlo.
“We started off a little slow, but after the 12-minute mark of the first period we started to come on and take over the game,” said Ferraro. “Any time they got pressure on us we kind of relaxed a bit and made one simple pass and got out of our zone. I thought our guys did one heck of a job tonight on the defensive side of the game.”
The Red Deer sniper was more than impressed with his team’s positional play.
“Every time they tried to go D to D and were hitting the forwards on the far side of the ice we got on them pretty quickly,” he said. “We were on the puck quick enough that our D was able to get the puck out of our zone. They (Pats) played like we thought they would and we were ready for it.”