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Patrik Bartosak was, at first, tongue-tied. But then the graduating Red Deer Rebels netminder relented and spoke with the eloquence that he displayed while making a mind-boggling 4,546 saves in 145 regular-season games during his two and a half years with the Western Hockey League team.
As the captain of the Red Deer Rebels ship that sunk with Tuesday’s 5-3 WHL tie-breaker loss to the Prince Albert Raiders, Conner Bleackley feels like he’s more than partly to blame. The 18-year-old, however, was the club’s best forward during the majority of the season and along with the likes of goaltender Patrik Bartosak and defenceman Haydn Fleury, was a big reason the Rebels even got close to a playoff berth.
For the Red Deer Rebels, ‘Tie-breaker Tuesday’ was a case of deja vu all over again. With the vast majority of the 5,411 fans at the Enmax Centrium solidly behind them in a must-win game, the Rebels carried a one-goal lead into the third period before surrendering three goals and falling 5-3 to the Prince Albert Raiders.
It’s not officially a playoff game, but tonight’s WHL Eastern Conference tie-breaker at the Enmax Centrium should resemble a post-season contest. In fact, the match featuring the Red Deer Rebels and Prince Albert Raiders is basically the equivalent of a seventh game of a best-of-seven playoff series.
It’s a relatively safe assumption that Patrik Bartosak will enter the Red Deer Rebels franchise record book for the second time in a manner of weeks when his club concludes WHL regular-season play this weekend. Bartosak, who last month broke Shane Bendera’s long-time mark for most saves in a season and has continued to add to the record, needs just 50 saves to catch Mike Whitney as the goaltender with the most stops in franchise history.
As Patrik Bartosak continues to add to his franchise record for most saves in a single season, he continues to keep the Red Deer Rebels in the WHL playoff hunt. The Rebels rode Bartosak’s coattails to a 3-2 win over the Kootenay Ice before 4,451 fans Wednesday at the Enmax Centrium and in the process moved two points clear of the Prince Albert Raiders — who fell 6-1 at Regina — and into a seventh-place tie with the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Eastern Conference.
The challenge for the Red Deer Rebels is all too obvious. With three games remaining in their regular-season schedule, the Rebels have to win two — and possibly all three — if they hope to punch their ticket to the Western Hockey League playoffs.
MEDICINE HAT — Too many games in too few nights resulted in a Red Deer Rebels Western Hockey League defeat Saturday. That, and a handful of costly turnovers. “It caught up to us a bit” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, in reference to his club’s busy itinerary, following a 5-3 loss to the host Medicine Hat Tigers.
Turnabout, as they say, is fair play.
Call it an early audition. Josh Mahura and Mason McCarty might not get into a WHL game after being recalled by the Red Deer Rebels, but they’re getting an up-front opportunity to impress the coaching staff during practice. Both players will be in the mix for regular WHL employment next season and are presently soaking up the experience of being with the Rebels as they make a late push to secure a playoff berth.
MEDICINE HAT — Perhaps the Red Deer Rebels should apply for a permit to play their remaining two WHL home games away from the Centrium. The Rebels, after all, have enjoyed more success on the road than at home this season with an 18-15-1-0 slate on enemy ice, a record that was boosted by a 2-1 shootout win over the Medicine Hat Tigers Wednesday a mere 24 hours following a 4-0 victory over the Kootenay Ice at Cranbrook.
CRANBROOK — The Red Deer Rebels knew what was on the line Tuesday and decided to settle matters early. The Rebels entered their WHL meeting with the Kootenay Ice battling for the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference and played with a distinct measure of urgency in the first period, jumping out to a three-goal lead en route to a 4-0 win before 1,981 fans at Western Financial Place.
The Red Deer Rebels played with a distinct sense of urgency Friday with their Western Hockey League playoff hopes on the line. Unfortunately, their dogged desperation — especially over the final 40 minutes — earned them just a single point in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers in front of 5,395 fans at the Enmax Centrium.
A change of scenery can have its perks. Matt Bellerive has been traded twice in his four-year Western Hockey League career, his latest move shifting him from Red Deer to Kamloops. Bellerive was dealt from the Rebels to the Blazers in early January, 16 months after being acquired by the Rebels from the Vancouver Giants.
The Red Deer Rebels didn’t turn in the proverbial solid 60-minute performance Wednesday night at the Enmax Centre. But in the end, two out of three was good enough to post a 2-0 Western Hockey League victory over the Kamloops Blazers before a recorded gathering of 4,129.
With every puck that he stops during tonight’s WHL clash with the visiting Kamloops Blazers, Patrik Bartosak will establish a new Red Deer Rebels franchise record. The Rebels netminder has, in fact, been building on the total since breaking the franchise mark for most saves in a single season during a 7-1 loss to the Calgary Hitmen Feb. 17.
The Red Deer Rebels were all over their guests in the second period of Saturday’s WHL outing at the Enmax Centrium and seemingly en route to a crucial victory in their quest to land a playoff berth. Appearances, of course, can be deceiving. While the Rebels were the better club though the majority of the contest, they nevertheless suffered a difficult 5-3 loss to the Swift Current Broncos after surrendering a 3-1 lead.
The Red Deer Rebels and Edmonton Oil Kings played ‘circle the wagons’ Wednesday at the Enmax Centrium. The Rebels were the cowboys.
Playing through pain is one thing; playing with a bad shoulder is another matter altogether. Hampered by a shoulder injury since very early in the season, Lukas Sutter played his final WHL game with the Red Deer Rebels in a 7-1 loss Monday at Calgary.
Maintaining an upbeat mood is becoming a challenge for the Red Deer Rebels. “That’s probably the biggest thing. It’s been hard to stay positive especially over our last eight or nine games. It’s been tough,” Rebels captain and leading scorer Conner Bleackley said Tuesday.