Rebels 4 Silvertips 1
It was a game that Ethan Anders won’t forget any time soon.
The Red Deer Rebels rookie netminder posted his first-ever Western Hockey League victory Tuesday night at the Centrium, and he did it in style.
The 17-year-old turned aside 28 shots in leading the Rebels to a 4-1 victory over the Everett Silvertips before a recorded gathering of 3,977.
“It felt pretty good. It was nice to get that first one under the belt, for sure,” said the Regina native. “I wasn’t too busy in the first (period) and felt a bit better in the second because I got a few nice saves in the first and kind of calmed down after that.”
Anders set the tone for the evening by stopping Matt Fonteyne on a first-period, short-handed breakaway that actually saw two Silvertips forwards in alone, one trailing the other.
“I’m happy they didn’t go beside each other. It made the breakaway a little easier,” said Anders.
Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter was impressed with his young netminder and pleased with his club’s ability to rebound from a disappointing effort in a 5-2 loss to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings Saturday.
“It was certainly a different game on our part from the other night,” said Sutter. “Right from our goaltender on out, we battled and played hard.
“We played a team that’s quick. I thought we did a good job of handling their speed, but I thought we played pretty quick too. Plus we capitalized on some opportunities. That’s what you need.”
Lane Zablocki notched his first goal of the season — a power play marker — to give the Rebels a 1-0 lead 87 seconds into contest, depositing a rebound of a Kristian Reichel shot past ‘Tips stopper Dorrin Luding.
The visitors drew even at 4:16 of the middle frame when Orrin Centazzo beat Anders with a rising shot from 25 feet out, but Rebels captain Grayson Pawlenchuk answered with the eventual winner five minutes later, ripping a shot to the top of the net while stationed low in the right faceoff circle.
Pawlenchuk, who assisted on the first tally, and Zablocki each contributed two points, as did Reichel, who took a nifty drop pass from Zablocki and roofed a 3-1 goal late in the second period. It was an impressive turnabout after most of the Rebels top forwards failed to make an impression in Saturday’s setback.
“Those guys have to understand the responsibility and the accountability they have then they’re those types of players,” said Sutter. “It’s not always about the end result, it’s the process in the game and how we have to play and how we need to do things.
“When you look at it, we have a 10-point plan and we have to be able to check those boxes off every night. Tonight we checked most of them off, for sure, and the other night we probably couldn’t check any of them off, so the result was different. It’s a credit to the guys for responding the right way.”
After facing just six shots in the opening frame, Anders made 11 saves in each of the next two periods. In the third, with the Silvertips on the power play, he blocked a pair of one-timers by Centazzo and another by Riley Sutter to preserve the Rebels’ two-goal lead.
Jared Dmytriw put the game on ice with an empty-net goal at the 19-minute mark.
Anders’ play was the main reason Everett was zero-for-six with a man advantage despite some excellent puck movement in the offensive zone. “Our goalie played well, he stood tall,” said Sutter. “He battled and looked big in the net. He made some big saves at certainly big times. He was a big part of our penalty killing, which goaltenders have to be.
“It was a really good effort on his part, but it was a good effort through the whole team.”
Sutter addressed his troops earlier in the day and clearly the message got through.
“This morning Brent came in and gave us a big speech about how we have to be better,” said Anders. “Today we came out and played a lot better defensively. We blocked a lot more shots and that helped me out a lot.”
After losing their previous three outings, which evened their record at 3-3, the Rebels needed a positive outcome Tuesday in order to gain traction heading into their next two contests — Thursday in Cranbrook versus the Kootenay Ice and Saturday at home against the Saskatoon Blades.
“This was a step back in the right direction that we needed to have,” said Sutter. “Our overall game was better tonight. There’s always going to be mistakes but when all the other points are covered and you’re doing things the right way you seem to make up for the mistakes through coverage and good goaltending. They go hand in hand.
“Our speed game was good tonight because we were moving pucks and we were skating. We played north-south hockey, not east-west hockey. We were playing from one end of the rink to the other, not playing from side boards to side boards.”
Just notes: Luding made 31 saves and was named third star of the game. The first two stars were Anders and Zablocki . . . Former Rebels forward Jeff de Wit, a Red Deer product, was dealt to Kootenay from the Regina Pats Tuesday. In return, the 2018 Memorial Cup host Pats got former Rebels prospect forward Tanner Sidaway and a seventh-round draft pick.