Spending more than half a period in the penalty box makes it extremely difficult to win.
The Red Deer Rebels sat for six minors and never gave themselves a chance for any momentum with a 4-1 loss to Swift Current in WHL action on Friday night.
Penalty trouble has plagued the Rebels lately and even though they didn’t allow the Broncos to score on the man advantage, the short handed opportunities meant Red Deer’s top unit didn’t see much ice together in the first two periods.
“That’s 12 minutes that you have to kill off,” said Rebels GM/ head coach Brent Sutter. “You’re playing short handed as it is with Musil out of your lineup. Obviously he’s an all purpose player for you. Discipline and that part of it … we deserved all the penalties we got. I thought our PK was good, we did a good job on the PK.”
Rebels Captain Adam Musil was suspended one game after an instigator penalty before a fight late in the game Wednesday against Lethbridge.
Other than Lane Zablocki’s 18th goal early in the third Friday, there was little to cheer about for 5,000 plus fans at the Centrium. The hometown crowd did get a special treat from local product and Broncos forward Tyler Steenbergen, who had a hat trick Friday and capped the evening sliding in an empty net goal late in the third.
Steenbergen product has 43 goals on the season and had a big smile after being named first star while playing against the squad he grew up rooting for.
“It was pretty special, hometown game for me. You always want to play well in front of your family. But I was fortunate enough to get those goals, my teammates made some great plays,” Steenbergen said.
“I’ll probably remember that for quite while.”
In comparison to Wednesday’s 7-3 loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Sutter said the response from his group was where it needed to be.
“I thought our intention was in the right place here tonight. Certainly a big difference from our last game at home,” Sutter said.
“You look at the two goals, we gift wrapped the first goal and the third goal. Turnovers, you allow two-on-ones inside your own blueline. It’s tough. We had a push, we made it 2-1, then they got that one right away. I was happy with the kids’ effort and their purpose here tonight.”
After being pulled from the game Wednesday, Rebels goalie Lasse Petersen made 28 saves in the loss. He was one of the only reasons Red Deer was in the game through 40 minutes.
The loss Friday was the Rebels fifth in their last six games and meant Red Deer has fallen below .500 for the season. Sutter explained to his team solving that inconsistency needs their main focus through the remaining 17 games.
“Where we’re at now… there has to be more focus and more discipline in how we play. We have to take pride in our systems,” Sutter said.
“We have to have a work ethic within that and I thought we’ve been really inconsistent with that. I told them if they’re not they are going to be a below .500 hockey team pushing to try and find a playoff spot and that’s where we’re at right now. We dropped our guard.”
The Rebels welcome the league-leading Regina Pats to town on Saturday night before a five-game road trip starting Tuesday in Seattle.