The Red Deer Rebels got caught thinking a little bit too much about some home cooking.
In the final game before a 13-day break, Red Deer was torched by the Medicine Hat Tigers power play in a 4-1 loss at the Centrium.
Josh Williams scored twice on the man-advantage and James Hamblin added another in a dominant special teams performance by the visitors.
On top of scoring three times in three chances on the power play and being 8-for-15 in the four games against Red Deer this year, Medicine Hat didn’t allow a power-play goal in the contest Friday.
“I thought for two periods, outside of a handful of guys we weren’t very good. I thought we were outworked for two periods. Obviously, they get three power-play goals because our specialty teams were just a reflection of our five-on-five play the first two periods,” Rebels GM/ head coach Brent Sutter said.
“It’s disappointing to play this way our last game before the break. You measure your group against top teams… We’ve had some guys in the last 1o games or so not play as well as we need them to. Got out of their roles and how they need to play.”
Mads Sogaard was also a thorn in the Rebels’ side once again with 49 saves, including 19 in the third period on several high-quality chances from the home side.
The CHL Import netminder has stopped 125 of 132 shots in four wins against the Rebels this year.
“Let’s not kid ourselves, their goalie made some big saves, but we chased the whole second period. We hardly even had the puck on our stick,” Sutter said.
Chris Douglas scored early in the first to open up a lead for Red Deer. The winger snapped home his 10th of the season on a nifty pass from Zak Smith that appeared to surprise Sogaard.
After clanking the post several times in the period, Josh Williams kept the Tigers power play red hot against the Rebels. His one-timer was a bit of a knuckle puck that drifted just past a sprawling Ethan Anders.
Medicine Hat struck again on the power play midway through the second. Williams slid a pass past a pair of Rebels’ penalty killers across the ice to James Hamblin who buried his 16th of the year.
“You look at (two of) the goals they got, right through the seams. Forwards not doing their jobs. Really that’s what it was. Their details killing penalties wasn’t good,” Sutter said.
“Outside of one or two faceoffs, on special teams, we started without the puck. If you don’t have the puck, when you’re shorthanded they start right away and on the power play it’s going down the ice and you’re chasing it, it’s killing 20 or 30 seconds of your power play.”
Bad luck bit the Rebels midway through the second. After Douglas hit the post, Alex Morozoff had a goal disallowed because he gloved the puck in.
Later in the period, with Alex Alexeyev scrambling off the ice bleeding after getting high sticked and no call, the Tigers capitalized.
Williams buried the Tigers third power play goal of the game with a wrister through a screen that eluded Anders.
As the Rebels pressed in the third, Sogaard stood tall and Bryan Lockner sealed the win with an empty net goal.
Red Deer is off until Dec. 28 when they take on the Vancouver Giants at the Centrium. Sutter said his group, which sits at the top of the Central Division with a 20-10-2-0 record, needs to come back hungry from the break.
“After Christmas, we have to reset and we focus,” he said.
“We’re still a team that’s being hunted, we’re not the hunter. We have to stay in that mindset but to do that we have to have everyone dialed in after Christmas.”