Tigers 2 Rebels 0
There were many who felt Medicine Hat Tigers netminder Tyler Bunz should have been on Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships.
Many of those play for the Red Deer Rebels.
Bunz has had the Rebels number for some time now and that was the case again Tuesday when he turned aside 36 shots in beating the hard-luck Rebels 2-0 in Western Hockey League play before 4,752 fans at the Centrium.
As the shots indicated — 36-20 — the Rebels were the better team, dominating play five-on-five. In fact it would be hard to find a good scoring chance for the Tigers when the teams were at full strength.
“I thought we played a real good game and five-on-five we didn’t give them much at all, as the shots indicated” said Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin.
“We came out strong in the first period, but the difference in the game was that you can’t win when you don’t score.
“Bunz played real well, but we had some open nets and quality opportunities but we didn’t bear down and put the puck in the net. As far as our overall performance, our structure, our effort and work ethic it was all there. But we have to bear down.”
Rebels forward Turner Elson agreed and said he knew what they’d be working on at practice today.
“This was one of our best games all year, the work ethic was there but nothing wanted to go in,” he said.
“It was a solid game for us, but they scored two power play goals and that’s what they do. Our defence was excellent and we played well, but we have to bear down and I’m sure we’ll work on that.”
The Rebels best chance came in the third period when Bunz gave the puck away behind his net and John Persson had the wide open net. But as things went for the Rebels on the evening, his shot hit Matthew Konan’s stick and fluttered over the crossbar.
Minutes later Patrik Parkkonen beat Rebels netminder Deven Dubyk while on the power play to make it 2-0 and seal the victory.
The Tigers first goal came at 16:25 of the second period when Konan snuck a shot between Dubyk’s arm and body while enjoying a two-man advantage.
Both Tigers goals came after borderline calls.
“They’re an opportunistic team and very good off the rush and on the power play,” said Wallin.
“There were some questionable calls, but you can count on those in any game.
“There were three very debatable calls and three legitimate penalties. But we also had five power plays and while we created opportunities we didn’t put the puck in.
“Plus a guy like Bunz is going to make a lot of stops.”
Tigers head coach Shaun Clouston gave his veteran netminder credit as well.
“Basically Red Deer was all over us in the first period and while we got our legs going a little bit in the second and third we only generated a few scoring chances. The big difference was the power play and Tyler Bunz.”
While Bunz plays well against everyone, he’s always seems extra sharp against the Rebels.
“Sometimes things just happen that way and he always seems to have some of his best games against Red Deer.”
Bunz was one of the last cuts from Team Canada and naturally disappointed.
“Tyler is a real committed player and has gotten better and better as his career went on,” said Clouston. “He’s focused on being an NHL goaltender and was really heartbroken when he was cut. But he came back and went right back to work.”
Elson gave Bunz, who was the game’s first star, credit, but isn’t about to lie down when they face him again.
“There’s something there with him as he seems to be in the right place at the right time. Even when you tip a puck he’s there. He seems to have the confidence to come into our building and win, but once we have a game where we push the tempo and get a few by him he may start to crack.”
• The Rebels return to action Thursday when they host the Kootenay Ice at 7 p.m. . . . They were still without forwards Daulton Siwak, Josh Cowen and Adam Kambeitz and defenceman Aaron Borejko with upper body injuries and forward Cory Millette and rearguard Kayle Doetzel, who are at the World U17 Challenge . . . Rebels added 15-year-old defenceman Haydn Fleury of the Notre Dame Argos and 16-year-old forward Dexter Bricker from Swift Current for the game.