Red Deer Rebels forward Zak Smith slides a shot five hole on a shorthanded breakaway in the first period of a preseason game t the Centrium on Friday. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Tigers edge Rebels in WHL preseason action

Tigers 5 Rebels 3 (preseason)

For every young hockey team, there are bumps in the road and important lessons to learn along the way.

Friday, the Red Deer Rebels youth didn’t exactly live up to expectations in a 5-3 loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers at the Centrium in WHL preseason play.

Even if it was their fourth preseason contest, Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter wasn’t satisfied by the game that his group put together.

“I just thought there were a lot of mistakes. Especially that first half of the game. I thought it was kind of a sloppy game. Young guys need to learn to keep their focus. There’s no such thing as an easy game in this league,” Sutter said.

“You can get away with that stuff at other levels, you’re not going to get away with it here. You better be focused, prepared and ready to go. I didn’t think some of our young guys played well enough for us early on. I thought they got better. I thought there were a few veterans that weren’t very good either.”

It was a tough opening period for Rebels incumbent starter Ethan Anders, as he allowed three goals on 11 shots.

Still, the Rebels offence showed plenty of jump in the first 20 minutes. Arshdeep Bains was johnny on the spot and punched home a rebound to tie the game at one.

Just over two minutes later, Zak Smith cashed in a shorthanded breakaway with a backhand five-hole on Evan Fradette. Smith, along with Bains and Chris Douglas were the Rebels most effective forward in the contest by a long shot.

“They were a good line tonight for us, our best line and it wasn’t even close,” Sutter said.

Hometown kid Josh Tarzwell cashed his third of the preseason on a great drive wide with 5:05 left in the frame.

A few defensive mental lapses late in the period cost the Rebels the lead.

Tigers forward Cole Sillinger found twine to cut the deficit, then just nine seconds later, Johnathan Brinkman Andersen cashed in a weak rebound coughed right up into the slot by Anders.

“The third goal was a bad goal, that can’t happen,” Sutter said.

“You don’t get two points this time of year, but what I want to make sure is this group understands there has to be preparation and focus every day and every game. The first half of the game we didn’t have guys as dialed in as we needed them to be.

Early in the second on the power play, Cole Clayton buried a wrist shot off the post and in past Anders to put the Tigers ahead 4-3.

Late in the second period, the Rebels were being outshot 20-10 and finished the frame with six shots.

The shots finished 31-24 for the Tigers and for much of the third period, it was the Bains, Smith and Douglas line that had chances to even up the game.

Sutter pulled his goalie with just over 90 seconds left in the game and with under a minute to play, Ryan Chyzowski cashed his second goal of the night to put the game away. Red Deer was 0/2 on the power play while the Tigers scored just once on six man-advantage chances.

Evan Fradette stopped 21 shots to earn the win for Medicine Hat.

The Rebels finish the preseason Sunday in Calgary against the Hitmen. They open the regular season at home on Sept. 21 against the Edmonton Oil Kings at the Centrium.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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