By DANNY RODE
REGINA, Sask. – Most cases playing three games in four days, plus travelling, doesn’t make for great hockey.
Just ask the Red Deer Rebels and Regina Pats as they finished off just a scenario Saturday at the Brandt Centre.
Neither team was overly sharp, but the Rebels used an outstanding game by Brandon Hagel, who had three goals and a pair of helpers, to pull out a 9-4 WHL victory before 5,365 fans
“Both teams got in late after playing Friday and it showed,” said Rebels assistant coach Ryan Colville. “Despite that I thought we started off well and stuck to our game plan for the first period. On the other side they did look tired.”
The Rebels jumped into a 2-0 first-period lead as Jeff de Wit connected on the power play at 6:27 and Reese Johnson scored his 19th of the season at 12:45.
Brett Davis made it 3-0 at 4:44 of the second period beating Matthew Pesenti while shorthanded.
However, the Pats started to find their legs and got on the board with a power play marker by Sebastian Streu at 6:05.
“You could see they started skating better and getting their legs going and when they do that they’re hard to handle,” added Colville.
Hagel, who assisted on goals by de Wit and Davis, notched his 24th of the season at 6:50 of the second period. He later scored at 3:58 and 14:03 of the third period, both times after Regina crept within two goals.
“You need that from your top players,” said Colville. “”When he’s going he’s hard to control. He plays a hard game. He’s willing to go into the tough areas and take the puck to the net. There was nothing fancy about his goals.
“Hopefully the other players see that.”
Josh Tarzwell, who was named the game’s second star behind Hagel, scored an unassisted marker at 9:30 of the second period to make it 5-1. However Garrett Wright connected at 15:37 and the Rebels led 5-2 after 40 minutes.
Regina made it 5-3 at 1:22 of the third period on a goal by Duncan Pierce. Hagel then sandwiched his final two goals aroiund a marker by Brady Pouteau.
Zak Smith, at 17:51, and Oleg Zaytsev, at 18:28, put the final nail in the coffin.
Byron Fancy picked up the win in goal, finishing with 24 saves, but wasn’t overly sharp.
“He’s seen better games,” said Colville. “There were a couple of goals he definitely would like back.
“I know we got in late last night but he just needs to keep his concentration. There were also a couple stick-handling situations behind the net. That’s something we’ll get fixed.”
Regina’;s netminders weren’t much better.
In fact Pesenti made just eight saves on 13 shots before being replaced by Dean McNabb at 10:04 of the second period. McNabb finished with 11 saves on 15 shots.
The Rebels were two-for-four on the power play and killed off five of six shorthanded situations. Overall Red Deer allowed just one goal while shorthanded 10 times in the three road games.
The win gave the Rebels a 25-13-2-1 record and completed a three game sweep of their swing into the East Conference.
“It’s a nice bus trip back with six points,” said Colville. “Our division is so close every point is important. We can’t be losing to teams below us.”
Regina is fifth in the East while Brandon, who Red Deer defeated 5-3 Friday is fourth and Swift Current, who they edged 3-2 Wednesday, is sixth.
The Rebels sit in a tie with Edmonton for second in the Central Division with 53 points, one back of Lethbridge and three up on Medicine Hat.
The Rebels have three games in hand on Edmonton, one on Lethbridge and two on Medicine Hat.
Red Deer will face Lethbridge in a home-and-home series next weekend – Friday in Lethbridge and Saturday at the Centrium.