You’re not in trouble until you lose at home.
That remains one of the many playoff hockey-isms that’s nearly as true as the day is long and it bodes well for the Red Deer Rebels.
Red Deer returned home from Lethbridge with a split after a 5-2 loss Sunday, but beat the Hurricanes 4-2 in the series opener.
Essentially, if the Rebels can win three of the remaining series games in their own building, a place where they went 18-12-6 in the regular season, it will mean a first round victory.
That might be looking too far into the future for their liking, but either way the return home should help the Rebels.
“It’s exciting. You have to embrace it. It’s a great atmosphere. Seems like everything gets ramped up during playoffs,” Rebels associate coach Jeff Truitt said.
“With that comes the excitement in the crowd. It just seems to build the atmosphere around the rink. It’s a noisy building, it’s a great building to play in. We’ve seen that over the years and when this crowd can gets going it gets pretty loud and that’s what we want.”
A series victory is a long way from game three, where the Rebels currently have their minds’ focused.
“We just have to get back to our game,” Rebels alternate captain Brandon Hagel said.
“We didn’t play 60 minutes both games the way we wanted to but I think coming back 1-1 is what we wanted.
“These home games, with the crowd behind us – just have to reset and start fresh.”
GM/head coach Brent Sutter said Sunday his team really only played for two of the six periods in Lethbridge, a bout of inconsistency that at this point in the year is almost ingrained in the Rebels DNA.
“It’s well documented in our minds when we don’t play the way we need to, we’re not in sync,” Truitt explained.
“In regular season sometimes that happens from period-to-period, game-to-game, in playoffs it’s shift-to-shift. You need to tighten everything up as consistent as you can all the time. That’s just the different level that it takes in playoffs. We need that from everybody.”
Hagel also acknowledged that the 37 minutes in penalties were too many for Red Deer through the first two games, and must be cleaned up if they hope to win at home.
The 18-year-old was a vital part of the Rebels playoff run last season with 10 points in 18 games and playing in the Memorial Cup, he had some simple advice for his younger teammates heading into what’s expected to be an electric environment Wednesday night.
“I think going through the Memorial Cup last year, you just have to tell them to enjoy the moment. Enjoy the fans and the atmosphere and enjoy the game and everything will go right for you,” Hagel said.