Silvertips 3 Rebels 0
The Red Deer Rebels were not a bad hockey team Saturday night at the Centrium.
They just weren’t good enough to crack a tough nut in the Everett Silvertips, who got a 41-save performance from Thomas Heemskerk and took advantage of their few offensive opportunities en route to a 3-0 Western Hockey League win before an announced gathering of 4,335.
The Rebels held a 20-6 advantage in shots over the opening 20 minutes, but Heemskerk stood tall and the bounces simply didn’t go the way of the home team.
The Silvertips were the better team in the second period and opened a 2-0 lead on goals from Radko Gudas, who scored on a screened shot from the point, and Dan Iwanski, who connected from a goalmouth scramble.
“We had a very good first period with some quality opportunities and if we had continued to play that way perhaps we could have broke them (Silvertips),” said Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin.
“But we got away from that in the second period. We took the period off, stopping skating and started turning the puck over.
“We didn’t establish our forecheck in the second period. We had five guys standing still. Forwards were not getting in to create pressure on the forecheck, and we gave up two goals as a result of that.”
Red Deer was a different team in the final frame with a 13-4 advantage in shots, but still couldn’t find that finishing touch.
“We played hard in the third period but ultimately their goaltender played well and give him credit,” said Wallin. “I thought we had some opportunities and if we had buried one or more of them if might have been a different hockey game. But the bottom line is you need a 60-minute effort, and I didn’t think we had that tonight.”
Gudas connected on one of the visitors handful of third-period shots, again beating Kuemper on a screened point shot. Kuemper finished with 20 saves.
“We had a really sloppy and slow start, but we didn’t give up that many good scoring chances,” said Everett head coach Craig Hartsburg.
“We were better in the third when I thought we played smart.
“Red Deer had a few power plays in the game and were dangerous then. Our goaltender had to be very good on their power play.”
The Silvertips, Hartsburg confessed, have been strong between the pipes all season with the presence of San Jose Sharks signed prospect Heemskerk and 17-year-old Kent Simpson.
“We’ve had solid goaltending this season, they’ve both been good. We’re fortunate that both guys can give us a chance to win,” he said.
The former NHL head coach (Ottawa, Anaheim and Chicago) didn’t inherit an offensive powerhouse when he signed on with the Silvertips during the off-season and has convinced the players to buy into a defensive system that looked good on Saturday.
“We’re getting there. I thought we started out very sloppy this season, but we’re making progress and there’s room for improvement,” said the Everett bench boss.
“We have better structure now, and in junior hockey if you can eliminate turnovers you have a 50 per cent better chance of winning.”
The Rebels are idle until Friday when they host the Kootenay Ice.