By DANNY RODE
Rebels 3 Bisons 1
The Red Deer Optimist Rebels coaching staff has put together a defensive scheme that’s as good as any in the Alberta Midget Hockey League.
In fact it may be the best.
It was certainly was just that Friday as the Rebels turned in a solid defensive performance in beating the UFA Bisons 3-1 to win the best-of-five AMHL South Division final 3-0.
“The Bisons are one of the most offensive minded teams in the league, as they finished second in goals scored, and we allowed only four goals in three games,” said Rebels head coach Doug Quinn. “I was really happy with the way we played defensively.”
The Rebels allowed only 16 shots, including two in the first period and six in the third.
The Bisons jumped into a 1-0 lead at 8:36 of the opening period when Kirby Ruzesky beat Red Deer netminder Tanner Jaillet on a deflection.
“We missed an assignment off the face off, but it was a good play,” said Quinn.
“But we didn’t panic. It was about the first time we’ve been behind in the playoffs, but we kept working hard, came back and scored a few minutes later. We played real solid first period.” Landon Hiebert tied the score at 11:44 on the power play and Dylan Hollman notched the winner at 17:26.
“Dylan has really stepped up for us,” added Quinn. “He missed most of the first half of the season with an ankle injury, but I kept him around as I knew he had the ability. It took some time, but he came on and he’s our second leading goal scorer in the playoffs.”
If the Rebels did have a slight letdown it came in the second period. “We took some bad penalties and gave them some opportunities.,” said Quinn.
“Plus in the last five minutes there was a little bit of panic setting in and we started throwing the puck away. But we also blocked a lot of shots.”
Quinn sat his troops down after the second period, had a little talk and they were close to perfect in the final frame. Of the six shots the Bisons managed, only two could be called good chances.
“We told the guys to calm down, relax and trust each other and in the third period we didn’t give up much and when we did Tanner made the big saves, but that’s why he’s playing. There always will be the odd breakdown and you need your goalie to make those saves.”
Brady Bakke put the game away when he coolly stepped around the UFA defence and found and empty net with 25.6 seconds remaining.
The Rebels finished with 37 shots on the Bisons Devon Fordyce and took seven of 13 minor penalties.
The Rebels will face the winner of the Leduc-Sherwood Park North final, which has Leduc up 2-1. The next series is expected to begin March 18 at the Arena. “It’ll help to get some time off as our playoffs have been tough physically and we do have some guys nicked up,” said Quinn. “It’s nice to rest the body and refresh the mind.”