After a frustrating weekend, the Red Deer Rebels needed a win in a big way and the team responded 5-2 against the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Head coach Steve Konowalchuk said his team showed up to play.
“You have to be prepared to grind against that team. I thought our guys did and overall it was a pretty solid effort,” he said.
On Friday and Saturday, Red Deer dropped contests to the Saskatoon Blades and Moose Jaw Warriors. Konowalchuk said it was important to put an end to the losing streak.
“I thought our guys had a good mindset to give us a good chance right from the start of the game,” he added.
The Rebels did just that as less than 20 seconds after Rebels defenceman Marek Schneider’s goal was called back for goaltender interference, forward Kai Uchacz fired his team-leading 19th goal of the season off the backhand. The 19-year-old extended his point streak to six games with the tally.
“[The officials] said our guy hit their blocker so you know I guess that’s the view. The replay I saw it looked like their guy skated into the goalies stick,” he said.
“Great job by our players right after that I think we scored that next shift and the one after. Really where you face a little adversity we just went right back at them and didn’t worry about it and got the next two goals right away. That’s a big part of the game.”
Less than a minute later in the first period, defenceman Christoffer Sedoff hammered in a shot from the blue line to give the Rebels a 2-0 lead. Sedoff’s notch also put him ahead of Ross Lupaschuck for 11th all-time among Rebels defenceman with 106 career points.
Central Alberta’s team wasn’t done there as in the middle period forward Jace Isley was hooked on a breakaway attempt on the penalty kill and the officials awarded him with a penalty shot. Isley made no mistake and scored a nifty goal after he faked a shot on the forehand and put it top shelf on the backhand.
Konowalchuk explained players stepping up, especially the veterans was vital to their success Wednesday night.
“You can break down a lot of hockey games but if your best players are better than the other teams or they compete harder than other best players then you have a chance to win,” he said. “They were good with a couple of guys out we had guys step up and play some good minutes. That’s just as important you can’t have passengers when you’ve got one or two guys out.”
The Tigers’ coaching staff had seen enough and swapped goalies. Evan May came in for Beckett Langkow after he made just 12 saves on 16 shots.
Uchacz potted his second of the game just a few minutes after the change when he redirected a shot from Bawa in front of the net.
In the final period, the Tigers finally got on the board when Brayden Boehm fired one past goaltender Rhett Stoesser, who made 25 saves in the win. Brendan Lee added another goal on the powerplay later in the period.
Uchacz said after the game it was important for the team to get back in the win column.
“We brought it tonight I think right from the start. We had a good first period coming out and kept it all the way kind of until the end. We kind of got shaky in the third but good game by the guys,” he said.
Up next for the Rebels is the annual Toque and Teddy Bear Toss game Friday night at the Centrium against the Edmonton Oil Kings.