Well-er worth the wait

Clearly, Justin Weller picks his spots.

Lethbridge Hurricane Brody Sutter knocks Red Deer Rebel Adam Kambeitz off the puck Friday. The Rebels pulled out the 4-2 win.

Rebels 4 Hurricanes 2

Clearly, Justin Weller picks his spots.

Either that, or he’s extremely patient.

The Red Deer Rebels defenceman certainly chose the right time to notch his first-ever Western Hockey League goal on Friday, his picturesque short-handed marker at 11:10 of the third period standing up as the winner in a 4-2 triumph over the Lethbridge Hurricanes before an announced Centrium gathering of 4,424.

“It took me a long time to get my first goal out of the way,” said Weller, following his 85th WHL contest. “To score one like that is great. After I shot the puck I had a hard time believing that I scored. I’m really happy about it.”

The six-foot-three rearguard, a fourth-round selection of the Phoenix Coyotes in this year’s NHL entry draft, pounced on a turnover at the Lethbridge blue-line, then carried the puck into the right faceoff circle and ripped a high shot past netminder Michael Tadjdeh.

“I saw something short side and I was lucky enough that (the puck) went where I shot it,” said Weller.

Four minutes later, Brett Ferguson beat Tadjdeh with a low wrist shot from 40 feet out and the Rebels had their insurance.

Despite the positive result, Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin found some holes in his team’s game, given the fact the ‘Canes held a 37-27 advantage in shots.

“It’s a big win. They all are and especially at this time of the year,” he said. “But it certainly wasn’t our best game, and we know that. At times we were too soft in our own end of the rink and relied on our goaltender a little more than I’d like to see. Our power play (zero-for-five) didn’t general enough opportunities and we really just didn’t seem to get a whole lot going offensively. There were times when we got down low in the offensive zone and had possession of the puck, but weren’t moving our feet and driving out of the corners and getting pucks to the net.”

But as Wallin pointed out, it wasn’t all negative, considering that the Rebels rallied from an 2-0 first-period deficit to pull out the victory.

Czech forward Radim Valchar gave the ‘Canes a 1-0 lead 4:37 into the contest and then added a power-play goal at 12:04, firing a rebound off the end boards past goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, with his third of the season, replied for the Rebels just over a minute later on a one-timer of a back-door feed from Colten Mayor, and Landon Ferraro drew the home side even 24 seconds into the middle frame, wiring a wrist shot past Tadjdeh after taking a nifty backhand pass from Willie Coetzee.

“We got down two goals early and showed some resilience to get back in the hockey game,” said Wallin. “We showed some mental strength and at the end of the day we found a way to pull out a win. There’s going to be nights in the course of a 72-game season when you’re at your best and still have to find a way to win the game, and we did that tonight.”

Last season, the Rebels ­­— more often than not — would have found a way to lose due to a lackpower of firepower and a knack for turning the puck over at crucial times.

“I’ve already noticed a difference in the team this year. We don’t panic when it’s a tight game,” said Kuemper. “Last weekend we scored seven goals (against the Kootenay Ice), and tonight with the game on the line we need a goal and we go out and get two. That’s what teams need to win.”

After a rough season-opener in which he was yanked in a 6-2 loss to the Calgary Hitmen, Kuemper has posted two wins while surrendering only three goals. The 19-year-old Minnesota Wild draft pick faced only 15 shots in last Saturday’s 7-1 win, but was busy on Friday with a 35-save performance.

“Tonight was definitely a different game than the last one, when I was just trying to stay focused,” said Kuemper. “There was a lot more action tonight, but I prefer that. It’s easier to stay in the game and I enjoy being a big part of the win.”

Wallin praised his netminder.

“‘Kuemps’ stood in there. He stood his ground and was very solid,” said Wallin. “That’s what we need from him and that’s what we’ve come to expect from him. The message he’s got is that we expect him to be a top guy in the league. To be an elite team you need that from your goaltender and he certainly stepped up tonight.”

gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Samson Cree Nation Pow Wow

The Samson Cree Nation hosted its annual Pow Wow, celebrating youth last weekend

Come play at Medicine River Wildlife Centre

Grand opening of new playground

Red Deer group looking to keep roads safe for cyclists

A Red Deer cycling group is concerned about road safety after multiple… Continue reading

Smoke and pets do not mix

Take care of your pets during the smoky weather

WATCH: Raising money for kids at the Gord Bamford Charity Golf Classic

Former NHL players, Olympians, pro rodeo circuit members and musicians teed off… Continue reading

Canadian soccer captain Christine Sinclair continues to lead fight against MS

TORONTO — Christine Sinclair continues to have an impact on and off… Continue reading

In Franklin’s anthems, women heard an empowering message

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin never saw herself as a feminist heroine.… Continue reading

Happy birthday Boler: 100s of cute campers in Winnipeg for anniversary gathering

WINNIPEG — Angela Durand sits outside her camper which is decorated to… Continue reading

Merkel, Putin share a headache: Donald Trump

FRANKFURT — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will… Continue reading

Tim Hortons says its China expansion will include menu with congee, matcha

TORONTO — The president of Tim Hortons says a plan to conquer… Continue reading

Trump suggests Canada has been sidelined from latest NAFTA negotiations

OTTAWA — U.S. President Donald Trump is suggesting Canada has deliberately been… Continue reading

Photographer files complaint with police after alleged assault while on the job

TORONTO — A Toronto newspaper photographer said he opted to file a… Continue reading

Annual inflation rate jumped to 3.0% in July, highest reading since 2011

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says higher gasoline prices helped push the country’s… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month