Blades 3 Rebels 1
On a night when the Red Deer Rebels hung with a strong Saskatoon Blades team five-on-five, special teams played a crucial role.
The Blades went two-for-six on the man-advantage, scoring on a pair of power plays the opening 10 minutes of the second period to pull away.
In the end, Saskatoon picked up a 3-1 victory in front of 3,330 fans at the SaskTel Centre and Red Deer was left wondering what could have been.
“I thought we played pretty well. Early in the second there, we let our guard down a bit and a couple bad penalties and they capitalized with two power play goals,” said Rebels GM/ head coach Brent Sutter.
You had only given up 11 shots in the game you have three goals on you. Too many times it has happened on this trip, that we’re playing behind all the time.”
It has been a familiar thread throughout the Rebels Saskatchewan and Manitoba road trip, falling behind the eight ball and taking too many penalties. Sutter said at even strength his group has been decent on the trip.
“This trip we’ve had three or four goals on us when we’ve only given up 14 shots. You’re battling from behind. We don’t score easy, we gotta work for everything we get,” Sutter noted.
“A lot of that has to do with youth. Our older guys aren’t big goal scorers in this league, they have to compete and work for everything they get. I think five-on-five, we’ve better defensively. For the most part, we’ve kept the shots down five-on-five.”
Blades netminder Nolan Maier also outduelled Byron Fancy, stopping 28 of 29 shots in the win Friday, including 16 in the final 40 minutes. Fancy allowed three goals on 23 shots.
“We had quality scoring chances, their goalie played really well for them,” Sutter said.
Just eight minutes into the game, after some sloppy defensive play, Radek Kucerik opened the scoring when he fired a shot post and in for his first WHL goal.
Red Deer pushed back after a power play midway through the period before Dallon Melin found the equalizer. He tied the game late in the first when he followed up a Jace Isley drive and buried a loose puck. After missing just over a month with an upper-body injury, the assist was Isely’s first WHL point.
The Blades struck gold on the power play to pull away in the second, first with Kyle Crnkovic burying at 3:06 then Eric Florchuk notching his ninth of the season at 7:05.
Florchuk’s marker came on a mental mistake for the Rebels, a too-many-men call as a forward was a bit too eager and jumped the boards before his teammate was off the ice.
“A couple of undisciplined penalties and penalties you just can’t take. It’s not like the kids are trying to do it,” Sutter said.
“It’s just being a little bit out of position or not moving our feet. That’s everybody, not just the kids. (Friday) we took a penalty where one of our kids jumped over the bench and realized we still had five guys on the ice.”
Red Deer ends its six-game road swing in Prince Albert on Saturday against the Raiders and will be back on home ice on Nov. 15.