ICE 3 Rebels 1
The Red Deer Rebels held their own against the undefeated and high-flying Winnipeg Ice but came up just short 3-1, including an empty netter, Tuesday night.
“I think we’re right there,” said Rebels captain Jayden Grubbe. “We showed we can compete with them. I think it’s just a matter of getting a couple of bounces and coming out a little harder in the first.
“I think we showed that we can play with the top teams and we can be one of the top teams in the league, if not the best team.”
While the loss stings, coach Steve Konowalchuk said there “were some positives we can take out of it. There are still some areas where we can improve as we move forward here.
“At times I think we showed them a little bit too much respect, but once we got going I thought we played with them and we could have won the hockey game.”
In the first period, the ICE did not waste any time showing off why they are the WHL’s highest-scoring team, outshooting the Rebels 14-3 after 13 minutes and 17-8 for the period at the Peavey Mart Centrium.
Rebels goalie Connor Ungar came up big, stopping every ICE shot, most of them from close range.
The Rebels came out hard in the second period. Jhett Larson had a glorious chance to put the Rebels ahead but put it off the post.
It was the ICE who scored first on a power play, with Ben King off for tripping. Mikey Milne shovelled in a rebound, adding his team-leading seventh goal, at 15:26.
The Rebels connected on their own powerplay at 17:55 with Connon McClennon off for hooking. Liam Keeler tipped in a nice pass from Grubbe in the slot. Kyle Masters picked up the second assist.
The Rebels outshot the ICE 12-5 in the period.
In the third period, the ICE struck early with Skylar Bruce pumping one in from close range after taking a pass from Chase Bertholet behind the net.
The Rebels kept it close and had to hold off the Ice 5-3 for 1:43 after Arshdeep Bains, playing in his 200th WHL game, and Liam Keeler took penalties 17 seconds apart early in the period.
The ICE kept the Rebels off the scoreboard for the rest of the period. Ungar was pulled for the extra man with just under two minutes to play but the Rebels could not get the equalizer.
Connor McClennan settled it with an empty netter with 18 seconds left. The Ice held the edge on shots on goal 34-27.
The 6-4-1 Rebels next play the Edmonton Oil Kings at the Centrium on Oct. 30.
The three stars were Bertholet, Bains and Milne.