Penalties halt Rebels momentum in 6-4 loss to Hurricanes
Hurricanes 6 Rebels 4
The Red Deer Rebels looked like a winning team Friday night at the Centrium.
For one period.
The Rebels led 3-1 after 20 minutes, but didn’t score again until late in the game and eventually dropped a 6-4 Western Hockey League decision to the Lethbridge Hurricanes before 4,179 fans.
“We were a 20-minute team tonight, unfortunately,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “I don’t even know how to explain it. You play well and do things the way we want to play . . . we played well in the first. In the second we just quit moving our feet and stopped working.
“It’s tough to make plays when you’re standing still at this level. We had a lot of turnovers and what happens is you take penalties. We took four minor penalties in the second period and put them in the game and took a lot of our guys out of the game.”
The Rebels needed just 26 seconds to open the scoring as blueliner Colin Paradis scored his first goal for the hosts with a wrist shot from just inside the point that caught the far corner behind netminder Logan Flodell.
The ‘Canes got that back in short order when Brad Morrison broke into the low slot and flipped a backhand past goaltender Riley Lamb.
But the rest of the period was all Rebels. Captain Grayson Pawlenchuk took a feed from Mason McCarty, criss-crossed into the offensive zone and beat Flodell with a backhand at 16:27, and Reese Johnson scored on a breakaway 81 seconds later after hauling in a pass from Brandon Hagel.
Then came the fateful middle frame, in which the Rebels were assessed four consecutive penalties and surrendered a pair of power play markers.
Jordy Bellerive, through a screen, found the top of the net from the high slot at 11:56 and Taylor Ross cashed a rebound to pull the visitors even at 16:51.
Clearly, taking the only four infractions called in the period killed the Rebels’ momentum.
“It did, and they’re bad penalties,” said Sutter. “They’re penalties where you’re not moving your feet . . . you’re standing and trying to make a play or trying to finish a check without the puck, so you end up reaching.
“The onus is on everybody. The forwards not being strong on pucks, not getting pucks moving forward. You’re turning it over in the neutral zone and they‘re coming back and our defence is flat footed.”
Logan Barlage notched back to back goals for the ‘Canes at 8:54 and 12:02 of the final frame, scoring from his off wing with a bullet that clanged off the cross bar and in, and then beating Lamb with another high shot following a turnover in the Red Deer end.
After registering 13 shots in the opening period, Red Deer didn’t mount much in the way of offensive pressure until Pawlenchuk and Kristian Reichel went hard to the net and McCarty converted a rebound into the low slot with 6:37 remaining.
The Rebels came close to potting a tying goal in the dying minutes with Hurricanes defenceman Calen Addison serving a roughing penalty, but Dylan Cozens sealed the deal when he out raced a gassed Red Deer rearguard Alex Alexeyev and scored into an empty net at 18:51.
Red Deer directed four shots at Flodell in the second period and 10 more in the third, with most coming down the stretch.
“When you only get five or six shots in the second and third periods right up until we scored that (fourth) goal, it’s tough to score goals,” said Sutter. “We spent a lot of time chasing, but our turnovers weren’t good, the turnovers in our zone weren’t good at all.
“It’s trying to beat guys one on one carrying pucks out of your zone and not being hard on the boards. It’s tough to play like that and think you’re going to have success.”
In short, the Rebels were often their own worst enemies.
“It’s details in the game that you have to better at and you have to work at it to make yourself better,” said Sutter. “Tonight we had lot of guys after the first period where the details weren’t good at all.”
The Rebels host the Saskatoon Blades Saturday.
Notable: Lamb finished with 26 saves, three more than Flodell . . . The Hurricanes were two-for-five on the power play, the Rebels zero-for-three . . . Selected as the game’s three stars were (1) Bellerive, (2) McCarty, who added an assist for a two-point night, and (3) Barlage . . . Pawlenchuk and Paradis also had an assist apiece while Reichel picked up a pair of helpers . . . Forward Zak Smith, 16, made his Rebels regular-season debut after being called up from Neepawa of the junior A MJHL on a temporary basis.