Rebels 6 Hurricanes 3
Six different Red Deer players had goals as the Rebels soundly defeated the Lethbridge Hurricanes 6-3.
“Our strength is our depth,” said Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk.
“On different nights, different guys can chip in and we can be confident the guys on the ice can be in different situations.”
The two Western Hockey League teams squared off at the Peavey Mart Centrium in Red Deer Friday night. With the victory, Red Deer improved to 5-3-1 on the season.
Rebels forward Jace Isley had the game’s first big chance, shooting the puck off of the post less than a minute in.
Lethbridge was the first team on the scoreboard. Hurricanes forward Alex Thacker made a move to get by a Rebels defender, cut to the middle and fired a shot off of the right pad of Rebels goaltender Connor Ungar – Chase Wheatcroft was on the doorstep and stuffed the rebound to the back of the net, just one minute into the game.
Things began getting chippy between the two squads, with a pair of fights in the first five minutes. Rebels defenceman Joel Sexsmith threw hands with Hurricanes captain Joe Arntson and Isley fought Ty Nash shortly after.
Red Deer tied things up 6:32 into the first, when captain Jayden Grubbe centred the puck to Liam Keeler from the corner. Keeler didn’t make full contact with the one-time opportunity in the slot, but the puck still floated past the blocker hand of Hurricanes goalie Bryan Thomson. This was Keeler’s third goal of the season.
Keeler returned the favour 10:17 into the period, when he slid the puck to the captain just inside the blueline. Grubbe split two Lethbridge defenders, brought the puck to his backhand and scored his third of the season.
Ben King nearly added to Red Deer’s lead a few minutes later. Following a quick give-and-go with his teammate, King fired a strong shot towards the middle of an open net. But Thomson stuck out the paddle of his stick and robbed the Rebels forward.
Rebels winger Dallon Melin was stopped on a wraparound opportunity, but his teammate Ethan Rowland was able to knock a rebound past the Lethbridge goalie 15:12 into opening frame.
Red Deer’s Kyle Masters fired a wrist shot from the blue line with just under two minutes left in the period. The puck travelled through a maze of players in front and found its way into the net for Masters’ first tally since the 2019-20 season. He threw the metaphorical monkey off of his back to celebrate his goal, which was also his first point of the 2021-22 season.
“It was just one of those (goals) that found its way to the net – super lucky,” said Masters.
“Obviously the celebration kind of explained it. I’m finally getting the monkey off my back. Hopefully there’s more to come and hopefully as a team we can get more accomplished.”
After the first period, Red Deer led 4-1 while outshooting the Hurricanes 19-3.
Alex Cotton brought Lethbridge within two when he beat Ungar with a slap shot from the blue line while on the power play, about a minute into the second period.
Kalan Lind answered back for the Rebels two minutes later with his second of the season. Lind whipped a wrist shot over Thomson’s shoulder from his off wing. Thomson was pulled after being beat for the fifth time on 20 shots and replaced with Jared Picklyk.
Following a scramble in front of the Hurricanes net, King scored Red Deer’s sixth goal of the game and his fourth of the season. Arshdeep Bains and Kai Uchacz grabbed assists on the power play goal 10:56 into the second.
Cotton scored his second power play goal of the game 9:33 into the third period when his wrist shot from blue line, hit the body of a Rebels defender and deflected into the net.
That was the final time either team found the back of the net, as the Rebels won 6-3.
Konawalchuk praised his team for the energy they brought to Friday’s game.
“In this league you need that every night, so it’s good to see,” he said.
The three stars of the game were Melin (1), Grubbe (2) and Sexsmith (3).
The Rebels will host the Brandon Wheat Kings Saturday at the Peavey Mart Centrium.