Hurricanes 6 Rebels 3
Even 12 hours before puck drop, the Red Deer Rebels weren’t sure of their opponent Friday night at the Centrium.
In a wild 24 hours, the Rebels were left waiting.
It all started with a positive COVID-19 test for a player on the Calgary Hitmen, the Rebels’ original opponent for this weekend’s three-game WHL mini-series.
Calgary’s opponent on Monday, the Medicine Hat Tigers were forced to suspend all team activities as close contacts and pending further test results. They were set to play the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
So it became, Friday morning, that the Hurricanes and Rebels would meet up for a three-game set this weekend.
“We had an idea (Thursday) late in the day this could possibly happen. We really didn’t find out until about 10:30 (Friday) morning for sure who our opponent was going to be,” Rebels GM/ head coach Brent Sutter said postgame.
“We can’t use that as an excuse, it was the same for Lethbridge. They’ve been off for a couple weeks, we came through a tough series… I figured tonight would be a tough game, just with where we’re at.”
A well-rested Hurricanes picked apart a banged-up and shorthanded Rebels team in a 6-3 victory, handing Red Deer its seventh straight loss.
“I told the kids after the game, let’s keep our chins up and let’s just keep fighting. We’ve been battling here. We can’t dwell on it anymore,” Sutter said.
“We have to fight through some stuff. Some adversity we’ve been dealing with and hopefully, it will make us stronger. It’s a battle. It’s a battle in a lot of ways, it’s a battle to get through what we’re going through, doing what we’re doing here to hopefully keep the virus away and at the same time trying to find our way on the ice.”
Trevor Thurston opened the scoring in the first for the Hurricanes, with a blast from the point that eluded Byron Fancy.
Lethbridge then buried a pair of goals on the man advantage in the second, an area where the Rebels have struggled in the shortened season. Through 14 games, Red Deer has allowed 25 goals on 72 shorthanded chances.
“Our specialty teams– they got three power-play goals on us. Three of their first four goals were power-play goals. A couple times we had chances to get pucks out and we didn’t get it down the ice, turned it over and it was in our net shortly after,” Sutter said.
Ethan Rowland did breathe a bit of life into the Rebels’ bench just 14 seconds after Noah Boyko made it 3-0. The gritty Rebels forward fired a shot off the rush low blocker on Carl Tetachuk for his third goal of the year.
Lethbridge quickly snuffed out any hope of a comeback in the third, with two goals in the first five minutes of the frame and a third before the halfway mark of the period. Alex Thacker, Dino Kambeitz and Alex Cotton had the third-period tallies.
Josh Tarzwell and Rowland had late goals for the Rebels in the third.
Tetachuk finished the night with 28 saves and Fancy turned aside 31 in the loss.
Trey Patterson was injured in the loss for the Rebels and Red Deer will likely have to play with four defencemen for the rest of the season.
“It’s not like we’re not competing, we’re not working. That part is there, we’re struggling in some areas – I know we can be better because the kids have played better. It’s hard. We’re playing five defence, now we’re down to four, probably for the rest of the year,” Sutter said.
The Rebels are in Lethbridge Saturday and Monday to finish off the three-game series.