Wheat Kings 5 Rebels 2
From a three-game winning streak to a three-game losing streak . . . the Red Deer Rebels are trending in the wrong direction.
The Rebels, after opening the Western Hockey League season with three successive victories, suffered their third straight loss Saturday night, 5-2 to the Brandon Wheat Kings before 4,705 fans at the Centrium.
Red Deer GM/head coach Brent Sutter detected little, if anything, positive in his club’s performance despite outshooting the visitors 33-26.
“Obviously it wasn’t pretty. There was a lot of mistakes,” said Sutter.
“Our specialty teams . . . there wasn’t any urgency on our power play, it wasn’t any good at all.
“There were turnovers tonight and we didn’t have guys going to the net wanting to pay that price in tough areas. Our goaltending wasn’t very good. It was pretty well a team effort tonight in not playing a very good hockey game.”
The Wheat Kings were first on the board as Gunnar Wegleitner, in the low slot, opening the scoring 7:13 into the contest by deflecting Kade Jensen’s point shot by Rebels starting netminder Lasse Petersen.
The Rebels answered back just 90 seconds into the middle frame when Austin Pratt one-timed a behind-the-net feed from Reese Johnson past Brandon goaltender Dylan Myskiw.
But the Wheat Kings, on Kale Clague’s fourth goal of the season, recaptured a lead they wouldn’t relinquish on a scramble just under five minutes later. Petersen couldn’t handle a soft shot and the puck sat in the crease before being poked home by Clague.
Stelio Mattheos connected on a Brandon power play near the midway point of the period, his shot from the left faceoff circle beating a screened Petersen, who was then replaced by Ethan Anders.
Rebels second-year forward Chris Douglas notched his first-ever WHL tally late in the period on a redirection of a point shot by Ethan Sakowich, but Clague scored again two minutes later to restore Brandon’s two-goal cushion, finding the far side of the net through a crowd.
The Rebels had a two-man advantage for 68 seconds early in the final frame. Kristian Reichel struck iron with a hard one-timer but that was as close as the hosts came to closing the gap.
“I didn’t think our best players, outside of Reichel, were very good at all,” said Sutter. “It was one of those games when you come off a road trip trying to keep their (players’) focus. It happens at lot of times.”
Marcus Sekundiak closed out the scoring for the Wheat Kings with 11 minutes remaining in the contest, breaking in alone from the Red Deer blueline and shooting high on Anders.
“They (Wheat Kings) played well, they worked, but that has nothing to do with our play,” said Sutter. “You can’t make that many mistakes. You just can’t drift out of tough areas and play a perimeter style game.”
The Rebels will attempt to get back into the win column when they host the Everett Silvertips Tuesday.
“Just respond, you have to respond,” said Sutter. “With this team, you don’t usually have to question their effort, but effort has to get results too. And results isn’t just scoring goals, it’s blocking shots, winning battles and getting into tough areas around the net and wanting to try and get offensive opportunities.
“I didn’t think there was anything in our game here tonight that we could say we were decent, we were OK. We just weren’t very good.
“As a coach, you always worry about that coming off a road trip, and it nailed us in the butt tonight.”
Myskiw made 31 saves while recording his first win of the season. Petersen stopped 12 of 15 shots and Anders turned aside nine of the 11 he faced.
Brandon was one-for-three on the power play, while Red Deer was zero-for five.