It’s early, yet it’s already high time that the Red Deer Rebels get their season turned around.
“We’ve got to get back to playing well again,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said Monday while looking ahead to Tuesday’s 7 p.m. home-ice date with the Everett Silvertips.
Red Deer, 3-3-0-0, opened the Western Hockey League season with three straight wins, but Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings was their third setback in succession.
“We certainly played better on the road than we did (Saturday),” said Sutter. “But as I said before, it never seems to fail that when you come back after a road trip that the first home game is usually a stinker, and it certainly was for us.
“You get back and you get comfortable in your surroundings and your focus isn’t where it needs to be.”
While that type of lapse is common at all levels of the game, Sutter said he and his coaching staff were somewhat surprised the team wasn’t firing on all cylinders versus Brandon.
“We practised well all week. From a coaches’ perspective, that’s the thing that kind of surprised us. We were good in practice,” he said.
Ethan Anders replaced Lasse Petersen with the Rebels down 3-1 Saturday and will get the start in goal Tuesday.
Petersen, 20, hasn’t been sharp enough to hold the fort on a regular basis this fall and currently sports a 4.14 goals-against average and an .870 save percentage in 275 minutes between the pipes. Anders has a 3.37 GAA and .889 save percentage over 89 minutes.
Following Tuesday’s outing, the Rebels are in Cranbrook Thursday to face the Kootenay Ice and host the Saskatoon Blades Saturday.
Red Deer has a top-heavy home schedule this month, with additional Centrium dates with Calgary and Prince George Oct. 20-21, Medicine Hat Oct. 24 and Spokane and Regina Oct. 27-28.
Rebels vs. Everett Silvertips, Tuesday, 7 p.m., Centrium
The Silvertips are coming off Sunday’s 5-1 loss at Edmonton. Everett is 3-4-0-0 and sits fifth in the U.S. Division and eighth in the Western Conference. The ‘Tips opened a seven-game road trip last Wednesday with a 5-4 loss at Spokane and followed with Friday’s 1-0 win at Calgary. The lengthy jaunt also includes stops at Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Kootenay Wednesday, Friday and Saturday . . . Patrick Bajkov leads all Everett point producers with 12 (2g,10a). Next in line are C Connor Dewar (5-5-10), LW Matt Fonteyne (5-4-9) and D Kevin Davis (2-5-7). RW Riley Sutter has notched four goals . . . With regular starter Carter Hart currently injured, Dorrin Luding has carried the load in net and sits 19th among league stoppers with a 3.46 goals-against average. He owns a 2-2-0 win-loss record and an .896 save percentage.
Injuries: Everett — D Kyle Walker (upper day, day-to-day); G Dustin Wolf (lower body, 3 to 4 weeks), G Carter Hart (upper body, week-to-week). Red Deer — LW Dawson Martin (upper body, indefinite), G Riley Lamb (upper body, indefinite), D Alexander Alexeyev (upper body, indefinite).
Special teams: Everett — Power play 17.6 per cent, 16th overall; penalty kill 92.6 per cent, first. Red Deer — Power play 25.8 per cent, seventh overall; penalty kill 68 per cent, 19th.