Blades 4 Rebels 1
When you’re second to the puck all evening, the end result usually isn’t positive.
Such was the case for the Red Deer Rebels Saturday at the Centrium, where the Saskatoon Blades were the better team for the majority of the evening and skated away with a 4-1 Western Hockey League win.
Goaltender Ethan Anders held the fort for the home side through 40 minutes, turning aside 26 of the 27 shots he faced. But the visitors snapped a 1-1 tie when Cam Hebig took two strides over the Red Deer blueline and beat Anders with a low slot to the stick side at 11:10 of the third period.
The goal stood up as the winner and the Blades added insult to injury with late markers from Chase Wouters and Libor Hajek.
It was indeed a team effort by the Rebels, who saw their two-game winning streak snapped and their record drop to 5-4-0-0.
“Outside of our goalie, give me one player on our team that played even close to how we expect them to play,” said Red Deer GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “It was terrible, right through our whole lineup.
“I give Saskatoon credit. But come on, let’s not kid ourselves. It doesn’t matter who our opponent was tonight, we weren’t even close to the level we have to play at.”
Many of the 4,669 fans in attendance had yet to settle into their seats when Blades forward Braylon Shmyr notched a power-play goal 2:51 into the contest.
Outshot 13-10 in the opening frame and 14-8 in a scoreless middle period, the Rebels finally got on the board 51 seconds into the third when Brandon Hagel sent Grayson Pawlenchuk in alone at the Saskatoon blueline and the Red Deer captain beat Blades goalie Ryan Kubic to the glove side.
With the game knotted at one, the goal appeared to spark the Rebels, who had some extra jump for the next few minutes.
“I thought maybe the goal early in the third would give us some momentum and maybe it did for about four or five minutes,” said Sutter.
“But about two or three shifts later we got hemmed in our zone and no one was finishing checks.”
Wouters added an insurance marker after bolting down the right wing, holding off a check and steering the puck past Anders, and Hajek connected with a rising shot to close out the scoring at 18:30.
“We were bad tonight, outside of our goalie,” said Sutter. “He kept the game close for 40 minutes and gave us a chance in the third.
“But it went right through our lineup tonight. You can’t say one guy stood out among the forwards or one guy stood out on defence. It was right through the whole group.
“Our goaltender was everything we had tonight.”
Just notes: Anders finished with 34 saves while Kubic turned aside 27 shots to earn his third win of the season . . . Hebig was selected as the game’s first star, followed by Kubic and Pawlenchuk, who was the lone Rebel on the right side of the plus/minus ledger at plus-1 . . . Hagel left the game in the second period after appearing to be struck on the hand with a shot. He was dripping blood at the time but returned to the game at the start of the third period . . . The Rebels are idle until next weekend when they host the Calgary Hitmen and Prince George Cougars Friday and Saturday.