Winterhawks 2 Rebels 0
PORTLAND — The Red Deer Rebels couldn’t find a sale on goals Saturday night at the Moda Center.
Either that or they were short on cash, because they certainly couldn’t buy one.
The Rebels created numerous scoring chances but either shot high and/or wide, struck iron or were stymied by Portland Winterhawks netminder Joel Hofer.
The end result was a 2-0 loss to the Winterhawks in a WHL contest viewed by 9,487 fans.
“We had some chances, we just didn’t capitalize,” sighed Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, who pointed to his club’s lack of success with a man advantage.
Red Deer was zero-for-three on the power play and as Sutter noted, the club hasn’t scored on its last 18 man-advantage situations.
“The power play can be huge for you in these tight games and most are tight at this time of the year,” he said.
The Rebels outshot their hosts 19-16 through the first 40 scoreless minutes before the ‘Hawks got on the board early in the third period. Former Red Deer defenceman Jared Freadrich was credited with the goal when his point shot deflected off the skate of Rebels defenceman Alex Alexeyev and past netminder Ethan Anders.
Clearly, the Rebels didn’t get that type of break despite a late push that saw Brandon Hagel robbed by Hofer, who posted his third shutout of the season with a 25-save performance. Hagel had a team-high four shots and on another night might have scored twice.
“We need to get more offence out of more than just two or three forwards. We need other guys to contribute,” said Sutter.
The Rebels were the better team in the faceoff dot, winning 27 of 46, but with Anders on the bench and just over a minute left on the clock, couldn’t gain control off a crucial faceoff in the Portland end.
Instead, Joachim Blichfeld worked the puck up the boards to Cody Glass and the Vegas Golden Knights prospect scored into an empty net at 18:53.
Anders, like Hofer, was top-drawer in the contest and finished with 27 saves.
The Rebels have now posted just one win in their last nine games and are only four points up on the Brandon Wheat Kings for the Eastern Conference wild-card playoff position.
On the plus side, Red Deer is just four points in arrears of the Medicine Hat Tigers and two back of the Calgary Hitmen.
“We just have to stay with it. We played hard tonight, I liked our game,” said Sutter. “Of the four games we’ve played on this trip, the one we didn’t play well in was last night (6-4 loss in Seattle).
“We did a lot of good things tonight and we just have to make sure we stay focused and keep plugging away. Wins have been hard to come by, out of our last five games we’ve played very well in four of them and got three points out of eight.
“But you have to find ways to make your breaks too.”
Notable: Rebels overage forward Jeff de Wit appeared in his 301st WHL regular-season game Saturday . . . The three stars were (1) Hofer, (2) Freadrich, who also assisted on the second Portland goal, and (3) Anders . . . The Rebels put the wraps on a five-game US Division jaunt Tuesday when they face the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. From there, Red Deer will take on the Edmonton Oil Kings Friday in the provincial capital and will then host the Oil Kings the following evening.