Alexeyev, Hagel stand out in Rebels’ victory; Lamb makes 25 saves in shutout of Cougars
Rebels 4 Cougars 0
PRINCE GEORGE — Two of the Red Deer Rebels’ premier skaters were front and centre in a 4-0 Western Hockey League victory over the Prince George Cougars Monday.
And, of course, netminder Riley Lamb also played a key role in the win.
Defenceman Alex Alexeyev notched a goal and helped set up another in his first game since Jan. 20, and forward Brandon Hagel assisted on all four markers.
In the case of the second-year Russian rearguard, it was a much-needed return to action after spending two and a half weeks in his home country following the sudden death of his mother.
“It was a good game to get him back into, it was important to get him going again,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “It was good for him.”
Regarding Hagel, the third-year winger made amends for a sub-par outing in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings, a game he spent 12 minutes watching from the penalty box after being assessed a misconduct.
“He responded after sitting in the box 12 minutes the other day. It was a tight game and we had one of our best forwards sitting in the box with a 10-minute misconduct,” said Sutter. “He responded the right way today.”
Defenceman Dawson Barteaux provided the only offence the Rebels needed Monday, beating Cougars netminder Taylor Gauthier to the glove side during a Red Deer power play midway through the first period.
Alexeyev added a second Rebels tally with 59 seconds remaining in the middle period, toe-dragging around a Prince George player at the Cougars blueline, skating down the left side and flipping the puck past Gauthier.
Alexeyev returned to the ice for a practice session Sunday in Prince George, the first time he’d skated since Jan. 20. As a result, Sutter decided to break him in slowly Monday, even starting the 18-year-old at forward.
The switch in positions didn’t last long.
“We moved him back to defence and he played a regular shift after that,” said Sutter. “We used him sparingly on the specialty teams.”
Speaking of special teams, the Rebels’ were stellar, with the power play going two-for-three and the penalty kill three-for-three.
The visitors’ second man-advantage marker was courtesy of Mason McCarty, a right hand shot who broke over the left side of the Prince George blueline and connected with a shot to the high far corner at 1:54 of the third period.
The Rebels closed out the scoring six minutes later when Kristian Reichel cashed in on a nifty give-and-go with Hagel.
“We were solid throughout the lineup today,” said Sutter.
The victory, coupled with the Lethbridge Hurricanes’ 5-2 win over the host Kootenay Ice, lifted the Rebels to within two points of the Ice for the third and final playoff berth in the Central Division.
While Sutter was appreciative of the out-of-town help, he stressed the need for the Rebels to help themselves through the remainder of the regular season.
“Just do what we have to do,” he said. “Take care of our own business.”
Notable: Lamb made 25 saves to record his first shutout of the season and fourth in two years. Gauthier turned aside 27 shots at the other end . . . The Rebels continue their four-game road trip through the B.C. Division Wednesday against the Kelowna Rockets. Red Deer visits the Victoria Royals and Vancouver Giants Friday and Sunday. The Rebels’ visit the Calgary Hitmen Feb. 21, before returning home for back to back games on Feb. 23 and 24.