Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff

Young Rebels have tough time against Tigers

Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said it all as he walked toward the media. “Our goaltending was really good.”

Tigers 3 Rebels 0

Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said it all as he walked toward the media.

“Our goaltending was really good.”

The goaltending was definitely one of the positives for the shorthanded Rebels who dropped a 3-0 decision to the Medicine Hat Tigers in the final WHL exhibition game of the preseason for both teams at the Centrium Saturday.

“We got good goaltending both days,” said Sutter, also referring to Friday’s 4-0 loss to the Tigers at Ralston.

“Dawson (Weatherill) and Trevor (Murray) both did a good job last night and Lamer (Riley Lamb) was good tonight.”

And goaltending had to be good as the Rebels were playing without eight of their top players, with seven away at NHL camps and Evan Polei out with an upper body injury.

Lamb finished the game with 32 saves and couldn’t be faulted on any of the goals. In fact he didn’t receive much help on a couple of them and it was purely a bad break on the third, which deflected off a stick behind the Red Deer goal and in front to Josh McNeill. Lamb robbed McNeill with a shoulder save only to have the puck fall at the feet of Alex Mowbray, who shovelled it in.

Gary Haden, at 12:45 of the first period, and Sylvan Lake native McNeill, at 12:33 of the second, had the other Tiger goals. McNeill was an eighth-round draft pick (172nd overall) in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft. He played bantam and midget in Red Deer.

Sutter knew going into the weekend it would be a tough road against the more experienced Tigers.

“We’re a very young team and we’d be in tough these two games,” he said. “We knew that going into the weekend with many of our older players away at NHL camps. But the only thing I was hoping for was that some of the younger kids could generate a little more offence.

‘There were a lot of turnovers, but we had a lot of kids who played midget last year and it’s a big step to play major junior and to be put into the roles where they had to be a first line player. That wasn’t easy for them especially against an experienced team.”

The Rebels managed 18 shots on goal, up from 14 they had Friday, and showed some positives outside of the goaltending. In fact they killed off all three penalties, including a two-man disadvantage for 1:27 in the middle stanza.

“We haven’t worked on penalty kill at all,” said Sutter. “Pierre (assistant coach Pierre-Paul Lamoureux) has shown some video, but these kids were put into roles they won’t be expected to play this season. Except for a couple of guys, the same is true on the power play. That’s what this weekend brought.”

Sixteen-year-old Duncan McGovern recorded the shutout for the Tigers.

After the game Sutter reassigned forward Brayden Labant and defenceman Zach Wytinck, both 17. Labant will join the Camrose Kodiaks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League while Wytinck goes to the Southwest AAA team in the Manitoba Midget Hockey League.

The Rebels have 26 players remaining on their roster. They expect to have the majority of those away at NHL camps back this week before the regular season home opener against the Edmonton Oil Kings — Friday at 7 p.m. at the Centrium. The two teams meet again Saturday in Edmonton, which is the opening event at the new Rogers Centre. The game is already sold out.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at drode@bprda.wpengine.com. His work can also be seen at Danny’s blog at rdcathletics.ca

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