Rebels 4 Hurricanes 1
LETHBRIDGE — Red Deer Rebels general manager/head coach Brent Sutter described his club’s performance Friday with one word.
“Solid,” stated the Rebels boss, following a 4-1 Western Hockey League victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes before 4,933 fans at the Enmax Centre.
“It was a solid win. We needed to come in and play well tonight, that was important.”
Despite posting just their second regulation-time regular season win in Lethbridge in three years, the Rebels were unable to clinch a playoff berth when the Kootenay Ice took the visiting Regina Pats to overtime before losing 2-1.
Red Deer has an eight-point lead over Kootenay for the third and final post-season spot in the Central Division. Both teams have four regular-season games remaining.
The Rebels certainly looked in playoff form Friday despite giving up the opening goal.
Defenceman Caden Addison notched the lone Lethbridge marker at 13:38 of the first period when he cruised into the low slot and converted a corner pass from Dylan Cozens.
Kristian Reichel got that one back for the Rebels with three minutes left in the frame, slipping the puck under netminder Logan Flodell after Brandon Hagel threw the puck out front from behind the net.
Hagel then scored the eventual winner on a short-handed breakaway early in the second period and the visitors played a near-perfect road game the rest of the way.
Netminder Riley Lamb played a big role in the victory with a 26-save effort. Meanwhile, his teammates were strong along the boards and very seldom turned the puck over.
“It was just a solid game by everybody. Lamber made saves and we were responsible in a lot of areas,” said Sutter. “There was nothing fancy about it. We did a good job defensively, we scored goals when we had to and we sacrificed.
“We won more of the 50-50 battles tonight than we’ve won in a long time.”
Special teams also played a role as the Rebels were four-for-four on the penalty kill while getting the shorty from Hagel.
“That was huge for us,” said Sutter.
As was Mason McCarty’s power-play tally at 13:28 of the third period. The overage forward’s 36th of the season, off a rebound, stood up as an insurance goal.
McCarty added his second of the game into an empty net with 1:28 remaining.
The Rebels host the Medicine Hat Tigers Saturday with a mere one point separating themselves and a playoff berth.
“Our focus is the next game,” said Sutter, whose squad will be chasing both points at the Centrium. “We have to play well tomorrow and try to get a win. We’re going after victories.”
Notable: The Rebels will wear Don Cherry themed jerseys Saturday in support of the Kidney Foundation of Canada . . . Hagel recorded three points with a goal and two helpers and was selected as the game’s first star. Addison and McCarty, who had an assist to go with his two goals, were named second and third stars . . . Flodell made 22 saves in a losing cause.