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He came to the Red Deer Rebels as a listed prospect and left the organization as a captain with a pro contract. Turner Elson said his good-byes Friday after a four-year stay with the Rebels. The outgoing team captain kept his emotions in check while discussing his WHL career.
It’s Brent Sutter’s competitive nature that prevents him from labelling the Red Deer Rebels’ just-completed WHL season as a unconditional success. The Rebels shifted gears when Sutter replaced Jesse Wallin as GM/head coach in November, finished fourth in the Eastern Conference and reached the second round of the playoffs before falling to the Calgary Hitmen in five games.
The almighty hockey god was not a Rebel Tuesday night at the Centrium. The Red Deer Rebels rallied from a poor first period to carry the play through the next 40 minutes, but in the end dropped a 3-2 WHL overtime decision to the Calgary Hitmen. Hitmen captain Cody Sylvester, all by his lonesome, cashed a rebound to give the visitors a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal.
As Star Wars Grand Master Yoda might say, a glorious fate the Red Deer Rebels deserved. The Rebels were the superior team through the better part of Monday’s WHL playoff encounter with the visiting Calgary Hitmen and got their just reward when Mathew Dumba scored in overtime for a 2-1 victory.
The Red Deer Rebels have to be miserable hosts if they plan on getting back into their WHL Eastern Conference semifinal with the Calgary Hitmen. They at least have to make life miserable for Hitmen goalie Chris Driedger, who came up with a series of excellent saves in Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven set — both Calgary victories — but faced far more perimeter shots than attempts from in close.
CALGARY — Too little, too late. The Red Deer Rebels showed some life in the third period Thursday and even potted the lone goal of the frame, but their performance — particularly from the go-to players — through the first 40 minutes proved costly. In the end, Red Deer came out on the short end of a 4-2 count, falling to the Calgary Hitmen in the opening game of a best-of-seven WHL Eastern Conference semifinal at the Saddledome.
Thanks to Tyson Baillie, the Kelowna Rockets are alive to experience a second-round playoff series. And now they’ll face the Kamloops Blazers in a Western Conference semifinal minus several regulars — possibly all seven who were out of the Kelowna lineup during Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds.
If the underdog Red Deer Rebels strut into the Saddledome tonight with all the tenacity of a lap canine, Mike Williamson will be surprised. In fact, the Calgary Hitmen head coach is fully expecting the Rebels to show their teeth during tonight’s opening game of the WHL Eastern Conference semifinal and throughout the best-of-seven series.
OK, time is up. The Red Deer Rebels are raring to get back on the post-season trail. “It’s weird seeing teams just finishing up last night when we’ve been sitting around for close to a week now,” said Rebels defenceman Brady Gaudet, who admitted Tuesday that the team is anxious to start their best-of-seven WHL Eastern Conference semifinal versus the Calgary Hitmen.
All along, the Red Deer Rebels suspected the Calgary Hitmen were next on their post-season list. That much was confirmed Friday when the Edmonton Oil Kings eliminated the Kootenay Ice from the WHL playoffs with a 4-1 win in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference quarter-final, thus earning a date with the Medicine Hat Tigers and leaving the Rebels and Calgary to clash in the other conference semifinal.
They don’t know for sure who their next opponent will be, but for now the Red Deer Rebels are relaxing. They deserve a break after completing a four-game Eastern Conference quarter-final sweep of the Prince Albert Raiders in hostile territory Wednesday. While four games does a long series make, all four were physical and — at times — bitter clashes.
One can’t blame Jesse Miller if he was glad to see the last of 2012. Miller suffered three concussions during the year, including two in less than a month that ended his first WHL season with the Red Deer Rebels.
PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. — It’s onward and upward for the Red Deer Rebels. The Rebels rallied from a two-goal deficit Wednesday and got a third-period marker from captain Turner Elson to defeat the Prince Albert Raiders 3-2 and complete a four-game sweep of the best-of-seven WHL Eastern Conference quarter-final.
PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. — The Red Deer Rebels knew they’d have to be survivors in the first period of Tuesday’s WHL playoff game at the Art Hauser Centre. The Rebels played the role to a tee and now the Prince Albert Raiders need a victory tonight in order to survive in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final.
PRINCE ALBERT — The Red Deer Rebels showed a lot of positive signs while winning the first two games of their WHL Eastern Conference quarter-final with the Prince Albert Raiders. Now that the series is back in Prince Albert for Games 3 and 4 tonight and Wednesday at the Art Hauser Centre, will those positive signs have to be even more prevalent?
The Red Deer Rebels are halfway home, yet they realize that the rest of the journey will be nothing less than arduous. The Rebels hung on for a 3-2 win over the Prince Albert Raiders before 5,852 fans Saturday at the Centrium to assume a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven WHL Eastern Conference quarter-final. The series continues Tuesday and Wednesday at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert.
Regardless of when his WHL season ends, Justin Feser will go out in a blaze of glory. The Red Deer product and Tri-City Americans captain and forward, who will celebrate his 21st birthday in July, enjoyed a memorable final WHL regular season, setting a league record for the most consecutive games played and breaking the century plateau and placing fourth in league scoring with 106 points, including 44 goals.
It’s a well-worn cliche´, but one that rings truer than any other. “Your best players have to be your best players,” Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach reiterated this week, as he prepared his troops for an Eastern Conference quarter-final battle with the Prince Albert Raiders, a best-of-seven set that opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Centrium.
How important has Patrik Bartosak been to the Red Deer Rebels this season? Just ask opposing coaches and general managers, who selected the Rebels standout stopper as the 2012-13 Eastern Conference netminder of the year and a first-team all-star.
A handful of the patrons taking in the Western Hockey League playoff games Friday and Saturday at the Centrium will one day be playing for the home team. Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter welcomed goaltender Taz Burman and forward Adam Musil to the Centrium Wednesday and today will bring in another 13 prospects, most of them already signed to WHL education contracts.