Thunderbirds 4 Rebels 1
KENT, Wash. — If Rylan Toth expected his former team to make life miserable for him Tuesday evening, he was happily mistaken.
The overage netminder faced only 17 shots as the Seattle Thunderbirds coasted to a 4-1 victory over a Red Deer Rebels squad that showed very little emotion through the WHL contest viewed by 4,263 fans at ShoWare Center.
The setback dropped the Rebels to two games under .500 at 23-25-6-3. Red Deer is 8-15-2-3 on the road.
“We weren’t good at all tonight,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, who was just getting started.
“Tonight was a lack of respect for our system, a lack of respect for playing the game the right way. There’s a reason our record is what it is on the road. If we don’t shape up our road record is going to determine whether or not we make the playoffs.”
The U.S. Division leading T-Birds are admittedly one of the stronger defensive teams in the league, but the Rebels had to find a way to make former teammate Toth at least work up a sweat between the pipes.
According to Sutter, the will simply wasn’t there, particularly among his more experienced and gifted performers.
“It doesn’t matter how good the opposition is, it still comes down to at least playing and competing hard,” said the Rebels boss. “Our best players tonight were absolutely awful. Our top two lines, the (Adam) Musil and (Michael) Spacek lines, were terrible, and two of our top four defencemen were terrible, although our defence was hung out to dry a lot tonight.”
The Rebels were outshot 16-3 in the opening period, but starting netminder Riley Lamb stood tall and allowed just a single goal, that coming off the stick of Ryan Gropp.
Keegan Kolesar upped the count to 2-0 just 26 seconds into the middle frame following a turnover at the Red Deer blueline, and Alexander True, from the low slot, notched a power-play goal at 2:37 to extend the Seattle lead.
Sutter replaced Lamb with Lasse Petersen at that point.
“I pulled (Lamb) for the same reason I pulled Petersen against Lethbridge,” said Sutter, referencing a 7-3 loss to the visiting Hurricanes last Wednesday in which he yanked Petersen for humane reasons.
The switch did little to motivate the Rebels in that contest and the same rang true Tuesday.
“There was no push back, no urgency by anybody,” said Sutter. “It’s your older guys, guys we need playing at this time of the year. There’s just too much inconsistency. It’s frustrating.”
Rearguard Colton Bobyk accounted for the Rebels’ lone marker just 18 seconds following True’s goal, his blast from just inside the blueline finding its way through a screen and past Toth.
Elijah Brown, on a two-on-one tap-in of a feed from Luke Ormsby, closed out the scoring near the midway point of the third period.
Lamb faced more shots — 19 — before he was pulled than Toth looked at through 60 full minutes. Petersen stopped 15 of the 16 shots he faced in relief.
The Rebels are in Kennewick. Wash., tonight to face the Tri-City Americans.
“We have to start turning this around at some point or it’s going to be too late,” said Sutter. “You have to take care of your own business. It’s like we’re wanting everyone else to look after it.
“Tonight our best players were not very good at all. There wasn’t enough push in their game.”
Thunderbirds 4 Rebels 1