Wheat Kings 5 Rebels 3
Well, there’s one for the record books.
The Red Deer Rebels suffered a team-record 12th straight Western Hockey League loss Friday at the Centrium, 5-3 to the Brandon Wheat Kings in front of a recorded crowd of 4,852.
The Rebels didn’t deserve to set a new mark for team futility. Not on this night. Not this way.
Red Deer, quite simply, deserved a better fate, firing 43 shots at Brandon netminder Brandon Anderson, including 21 in a dominant third period.
But it wasn’t enough. Once again.
The legs were churning, the hearts were willing. But the hockey gods — and the visitors — didn’t co-operate.
“I’m proud of our guys, I thought we had a heck of an effort and played a real good hockey game,” said Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin.
“It a tough loss, no question about it. It hurts . . . they all do.”
On a night when the Red Deer power play was clicking — as in three-for-six — the Wheat Kings got a man-advantage goal of their own and did all their damage with 29 shots through 60 minutes.
Colten Mayor opened the scoring 3:25 into the contest with Brandon’s Mark Stone in the penalty box, lifting a backhand over Anderson from close range.
Mathew Dumba made it 2-0 on yet another power play two minutes later, his bullet of a wrist shot beating Anderson high to the glove side.
But the Wheat Kings got one back before the period ended as Stone scored his 26th of the season with a man advantage, sneaking the puck past goaltender Bolton Pouliot, who had moved off the post.
From there, Brandon pulled even with the lone goal of the middle frame, with Stone again pulling the trigger on a behind-the-net feed from Michael Ferland.
The third period was all Red Deer — in terms of territorial play — but the visitors got a break when Alessio Bertaggia’s shot from just inside the blueline deflected off Rebels forward Locke Muller and past Pouliot for a 3-2 Brandon lead.
Then, four minutes later, defenceman Jordan Fransoo, as the trailer on the play, made it 4-2 just seconds after the Rebels had created a handful of chances at the other end.
“We had all the momentum and they came down and scored off the rush on their second shot of the period,” said Wallin.
“But we stuck with it, stayed persistent and that’s all you can ask for.”
The Rebels were rewarded on the power play when Alex Petrovic scored on a shot from the high slot at 8:13, but despite applying big pressure the rest of the way, couldn’t find the range again.
Instead, Darian Dziurzynski sealed the deal with an empty-net goal in the final minute.
Wheat Kings head coach Cory Clouston sounded like a man who been granted a stay of execution, considering the manner in which his team was outplayed — and outshot 21-7 — in the final frame.
“We haven’t been putting a full 60 minutes together and tonight was a good example of that,” he said.
“We gave them three power plays in the third period to give them the momentum back and we just hung on. There were too many turnovers. We were very good in spurts tonight but we still have to work to put 60 minutes together.”
While Anderson stood tall, particularly in the third period, Pouliot — starting in place of the injured Patrik Bartosak — struggled somewhat while making 24 saves.
“Our special teams were good tonight. We had a big penalty kill in the second period and our power play moved the puck and scored some goals for us,” said Wallin. “And five-on-five we limited their opportunities.
“We really pushed at the other end of the rink. We scored three goals tonight and that should have been enough to win the hockey game.”
Notes: Already minus the services of Bartosak and injured forwards Josh Cowen, Adam Kambeitz and Daulton Siwak, as well as defenceman Aaron Borejko, the Rebels will be without Petrovic and Dumba when the Rebels face the Prince Albert Raiders Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Centrium . . . Petrovic and Dumba left for Calgary this morning to attend the Canadian national junior team selection camp. Brandon forwards Stone and Ferland will also be at the camp . . . The Rebels still don’t know the status of Bartosak, who suffered an upper-body injury Wednesday at Swift Current. He’ll see a surgeon Tuesday.