Optimist Rebels 5 Tigers 3
The Red Deer Optimist Rebels were clearly more comfortable in their own uniforms Saturday.
One night after falling 7-2 to the host Calgary Royals after being forced to wear their opponent’s road jerseys for the first period, the Rebels thoroughly outplayed the Medicine Hat Tigers in a 5-3 Alberta Midget Hockey League win at the Arena.
“We had a very poor effort in Calgary. It was just one of those situations that started when we showed up and forgot our jerseys,” said Red Deer head coach Doug Quinn.
“We had to warm up in the other team’s practice jerseys and wear their away jerseys until we got one of the parents to bring our stuff down to Calgary.
“It was embarrassing and we just weren’t mentally and emotionally ready to play that game.”
That wasn’t the case Saturday afternoon as the Rebels outshot their opponents 43-20 and got a three-goal effort from Conner Hartley, whose late hat-trick marker was the winner.
“We’re still learning. This is a young team and we still make a lot of mistakes,” said Quinn. “But I thought we responded well to last night’s loss. Our work ethic was a lot better even though we had opportunities to make the game 4-1 or 5-1 after the second period but didn’t take advantage of our chances.
“We let them (Tigers) creep back into the game, but our kids responded and certainly Conner Hartley scored a really big goal at a critical time to ice the game for us.”
Joel Topping and Landon Hiebert, with an empty-net tally, also scored for the Optimist Rebels, who got a 17-save performance from Tanner Jaillet.
The Rebels, who as the Alberta and B.C. champions represented the Pacific Region in the Telus Cup tournament — the Canadian midget AAA championship — last spring, improved to 4-3-1 with Saturday’s victory.
“One of the things I learned a long time ago is to be careful about comparing your team to last year’s team, because you’re usually comparing to the end of last year,” said Quinn.
“We’re still trying to figure out line combinations and a lot of our kids hadn’t played at this level before and they’re not used to the intensity and the speed. Once they make the adjustments we’ll be fine. I think we have enough talent, we just tend to tighten up a bit at times.”
Hiebert and Brady Bakke scored for Red Deer in Friday’s loss. Jaillet and Brendan Mandrusiak combined to make 17 saves for the Rebels, who held a 28-24 edge in shots.