The post-mortem of the Red Deer Rebels tournament opening loss reads like a laundry list.
But at the forefront was team discipline, a sore spot for the team at points throughout the season.
“We have to be better,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “Better individual play and if that’s better our team play will be better. A lot of guys who didn’t have their game. Our team needs to get better.
“I don’t know why it was that way last night. It seemed like we had a good start, but after the (Hayden) Fleury penalty and the goal they scored on the power play it seemed like our game went the other way.”
Just shy of the 14 minute mark of the first period, Fleury got tangled up with Matthew Tkachuk. Fleury was called for roughing and the ensuing London Knights power play led to their first of six goals that evening.
“You can’t take bad penalties in this tournament,” said Sutter. “There were two or three that we just can’t take and we can’t have that happen. Teams are too good and they make you pay a price.
“It was pretty evident in the first penalty, there was a lack of discipline.”
Rebels forward Jake DeBrusk admitted he was one of several Rebels players who did not play his best against the Knights.
“Our top players, including myself, didn’t have our A games,” said DeBrusk. “There’s no excuse for that, but you have to move on from that. It’s a short tournament.”
Sutter said the Rebels chased the puck and had no forecheck for the last half of the first period and all of the second period.
“We stood around a lot,” said Sutter. “We got caught up watching them instead of playing against them.”
Neutral zone turnovers and giving the Knights top line of Tkachuk, Mitchell Marner and Christian Dvorak space to work was a dangerous recipe for the Rebels.
Marner had two goals and three assists, one point shy of tying the MasterCard Memorial Cup single game points record, while Dvorak had two goals and two assists.
The Knights haven’t lost a game since April 1 and have now won 14 straight hockey games in both the Ontario Hockey League playoffs and in the Memorial Cup.
“We were disappointed with how the game went, it was pretty frustrating out there,” said DeBrusk. “But, it’s a short tournament and we have to go game-by-game. Game 2 is a must win and it’s a statement game for us. We want to give these fans something to cheer about.”
The Rebels are back on the ice on Sunday against the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Puck drops at 5 p.m. at the Centrium.