Salvaging Christmas cheer

Heading into the Christmas break as back-to-back Western Hockey League losers would have been a major downer for the Red Deer Rebels.

Edmonton Oil King Clayton Cumiskey drives Red Deer Rebel Justin Weller into the boards during Friday’s 3-1 loss in Edmonton

Heading into the Christmas break as back-to-back Western Hockey League losers would have been a major downer for the Red Deer Rebels.

Instead, the Rebels were truly in holiday mode when they departed for points far and wide following Saturday’s 2-0 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings before a gathering of 4,698 at the Centrium.

“It was really important to get that win. We weren’t happy with our game Friday in Edmonton (a 3-1 loss) and we wanted to go into the break on a positive note,” said Rebels assistant coach Dallas Gaume.

“As coaches, we thought the kids responded well after a game we weren’t happy about. They responded in a positive fashion, played well and deserved to win.”

Red Deer improved to 18-15-0-2 and will return to action Sunday against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes as the team holding down fourth spot in the Central Division and eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Rebels are 6-2-0-2 in their last 10 outings despite the absence of top-six forwards Landon Ferraro, Nathan Green and Andrej Kudrna for all or parts of that stretch.

“The guys are really pulling together and there’s a great atmosphere in the dressing room right now,” said Gaume. “Guys are feeling good about all the little things, whether it’s blocking shots, maybe sticking up for a teammate if that means dropping the gloves, winning faceoffs and killing penalties. All these little things that mean so much in a hockey game, these guys are taking a great deal of pride in, and they fell good about doing anything they can do to help the team.

“We know our (manpower) situation. We’re a little short-handed right now with some key guys out. But guys are stepping up and doing whatever they can to help.”

Two such examples are rookies Turner Elson and Colten Mayor, who provided the Red Deer goals Saturday. Both are listed players who certainly weren’t pencilled in prior to the start of the season and yet are contributing on a regular basis.

The extra ice time the aforementioned duo, as well as the likes of Adam Kambeitz and Daulton Siwak, are getting with the bigger guns out of the lineup, is surely accelerating their development.

“You’d sure think so, especially with a guy like Elson who’s playing a lot,” said Gaume. “He’s been playing some power play and has been a key guy on our penalty kill. He’s just getting more and more confident every game.”

Another ‘lesser light’, netminder Kraymer Barnstable, also came up big Saturday. The Rebels back-up stopper turned aside all 24 shots he faced to give the club its first shutout of the season.

“There are times when a team is missing that number of guys that the rest of the team goes in the bag and gives games away, but we pulled together and played with a lot of pride,” said Barnstable.

“We stuck to our systems, which was a key. We also did a good job of getting on their defence and hit them all night and wore them down.

“It was a great way to go into the break. The team did a great job. The D kept everything to the outside and let me see the puck and the forwards got the puck in deep . . . just a great team effort.”

The Rebels will have forward John Persson back in the lineup for their Sunday contest, and are hoping winger Josh Cowen will also be available. Both missed Saturday’s win with concussion-type injuries.

Red Deer will be without rookie centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who will play with Team Pacific in the World Under 17 Challenge Dec. 29-Jan. 4 in Timmins, Ont.

gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Police investigate shooting at O’Chiese

High-powered firearm involved

Rollover on Hwy 2 near Red Deer

Driver sustains minor injuries

City of Red Deer gets ball rolling on annexing more land

”It’s important we look ahead,” says Mayor Veer

Video: Windows smashed at three Red Deer businesses

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vandalism spree

NHL stays with status quo as Canada pot legalization looms

As Riley Cote took and delivered countless punches over more than a… Continue reading

Paul Stanley: Kiss farewell tour could include ex-members

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — It won’t be all night, but former members… Continue reading

Judge tosses Stormy Daniels’ defamation suit against Trump

WASHINGTON — A federal judge dismissed Stormy Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against President… Continue reading

Canada open to growing trade with China now that USMCA is a done deal: PM

TORONTO — Canada is open to doing more business with China now… Continue reading

Pot shop raids “highly unlikely” on Wednesday: head of police chiefs

VANCOUVER — Police departments across Canada are fully prepared for marijuana legalization… Continue reading

Campers will be able to smoke cannabis at campsites in Canada’s national parks

Parks Canada says visitors should do their research on cannabis before going… Continue reading

U.S. pot firms urge Trump to deny Canadian producers’ ‘competitive advantage’

WASHINGTON — An American cannabis producer is warning President Donald Trump that… Continue reading

Automated cars could kill wide range of jobs, federal documents say

OTTAWA — More than one million jobs could be lost to the… Continue reading

Most Read