Red Deer 5 Brandon 2
Following a win last Saturday Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter was worried that his team was beginning to take the little things for granted.
That certainly wasn’t the case Wednesday.
The players were obviously listening to what Sutter was preaching as the Rebels turned in a solid performance in downing the Brandon Wheat Kings 5-2 in Western Hockey League play before 4,025 fans at the Centrium.
“I thought we played pretty well, the only time we got ourselves in trouble we did it to ourselves with a couple of bad penalties in the third period, which allowed them to get a couple of goals,” said Sutter.
“Overall five-on-five and our power play was good tonight. We changed a couple of things with it (power play) after the first period and it seemed to work better.”
The Rebels scored twice with the man advantage on five opportunities.
From the outset the game belonged to the home team as they peppered Brandon goaltender Logan Thompson with 56 shots.
“With 50 plus shots on their net, we dominated a lot of the zone time, which certainly was a good sign,” said Sutter.
However, it wasn’t until 9:32 of the second period that the Rebels managed to beat Thompson when Brandon Hagel shovelled in a rebound.
“It was a greasy goal, but it counts and it was a good one to get … it got the boys going and after that we were really good,” said Hagel.
“The first period we had a lot of shots (19) but didn’t generate a whole lot of second opportunities,” added Sutter. “That happens when you’re shooting with no one within 10 or 15 feet of the net. It made the game easy for their goaltender.
“But the second period we started doing what we wanted to do and Hages’ goal was a big one in that it showed if we get a presence in front and get those second and third opportunities we will capitalize on them.”
Grayson Pawlenchuk took a cross-ice pass from the game’s first star Michael Spacek and rifled a quick shot high over the sprawling Thompson to make it 2-0 at 15:48. Jared Freadrich scored his first as a Rebel, on the power play at 19:50, once again on a cross-ice pass from Evan Polei.
Stelio Mattheos got the Wheat Kings on the board, shovelling in a loose puck during a wild scramble at 1:30 of the third period after Red Deer netminder Riley Lamb had made two excellent saves. However, second star Alexander Alexeyev restored the three-goal margin, taking a pass from Spacek as he cut in off the point. Tyler Coulter, on a deflection, made it 4-2 before Josh Mahura, once again took a Spacek pass, on the power play and put the finishing touches on the scoring at 17:59.
Hagel was pleased to see the Rebels spread the scoring around.
“It’s awesome to see, not just two guys, but the whole team contributing … that’s what happened tonight,” he said.
But despite the fact the Rebels allowed a pair of power play goals, it may have been a five-on-three penalty kill in the first period that set the tone of the game.
“We gave up two goals in the third, but that five-on-three kill when the score was 0-0 was huge,” said Sutter. “We only gave up three shots, but Lammer made a huge save when he got across and got his pad on the shot. That was significant, no question, especially with it 0-0. Killing off that five-on-three helps you and enhances your chances, especially the way we were playing.”
Lamb, who finished with 22 saves, robbed Tanner Kaspick on that leg save and later got a glove on a bullet drive by James Shearer. However, it was Thompson that had everyone shaking their heads as he made outstanding save after outstanding save. He was justifiably named third star.
The Rebels return to action Friday when they host the Medicine Hat Tigers at 7 p.m. at the Centrium. They then head out on an extended road trip which sees them play their next eight games on the road before returning home Nov. 18 against Medicine Hat.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His work can also be seen at Danny’s blog at rdcathletics.ca