Oil Kings 3 Rebels 2
EDMONTON — Red Deer Rebels assistant coach Bryce Thoma wasn’t sugar-coating the club’s 3-2 Western Hockey League loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings Friday at Rexall Place.
While the Rebels more often than not held their own through the first and third periods, they were outplayed in the middle stanza and coughed up an untimely — and costly — goal.
Mitchell Moroz scored twice for the Oil Kings — who defeated the Rebels for the first time in the last 10 regular-season and playoff games — swatting a bouncing puck past Red Deer netminder Deven Dubyk three minutes into the contest and then giving his club a 3-1 lead on a centering pass from Tristan Sieben in the second period.
Charles Inglis pulled the Rebels even on a power play midway through the first period, his shot glancing off the skate of Edmonton defender Mark Pysyk and past goaltender Laurent Brossoit. But the Oil Kings regained a permament lead with 20 seconds left in the period, as Tyler Maxwell pounced on a turnover by Mathew Dumba behind the Red Deer net and fed Michael St. Croix in front for his 33rd of the season.
“I thought we had a good first period and then played well in the third,” said Thoma.
“It was tough to give up that late goal in the first especially after we felt we had played real well. But at the end of the day we just weren’t very good in the second period. We didn’t finish a lot of our checks the way we needed to.”
And yet, the Rebels were still right there when Inglis potted his second of the evening 4:45 into the third period, toe-dragging the puck back to his stick at the Oil Kings blueline and beating Brossoit from the high slot.
Red Deer had an excellent opportunity to pull even in the dying minutes following a major penalty to Edmonton’s Kristians Pelss that resulted in a three-minute power play. Pelss was assessed a checking-from-behind major that left Rebels defenceman Aaron Borejko bloodied, and was also tagged for a fighting major after engaging with Chad Robinson, who also picked up an instigating minor.
But the Rebels never mounted a consistent attack through the extended man advantage and ultimately fell short before a crowd of 8,032.
“When you take 20 minutes off in this league you put yourself behind the eight-ball,” said Thoma.
“If we had played as well in the second as we did in the first and third periods it would have been a different story tonight.”
Brossoit turned aside 23 shots, while Dubyk made 30 saves.
“Deven was very good for us tonight. We didn’t protect the puck as well as we needed to and gift-wrapped their (Oil Kings’) goals,” said Thoma, who wasn’t sure of Borejko’s status for tonight’s 7:30 p.m. meeting with the Calgary Hitmen at the Centrium.