Rebels not fazed by physical play, pull out win over Ams

Photo by Doug Love

Rebels 3 Americans 2
KENNEWICK, Wash. — It’s not often that a Western Hockey League preseason game provides a head coach with insight regarding his team’s desire to stick together.
But such was the case Friday night at the Toyota Center, where the Red Deer Rebels refused to capitulate to the physical tactics employed by the Tri-City Americans.
For the record, the Rebels posted a 3-2 victory on an early third-period goal by rookie prospect forward Austin Schellenberg, but that was more of a side note to the hard-hitting, fast-paced contest.
“It was certainly an exciting game with lots of intensity, lots of emotion,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “I thought both teams competed and played hard.
“I give our kids credit. We played a big team tonight, a team that wants to play physical in their own building. I thought we did a really good job of handling that the right way.”
Connor Bouchard opened the scoring for the hosts 5:01 into the contest and defenceman Jacob Herauf pulled the Rebels even exactly 10 minutes later.
Kaden Kohle restored the Americans’ lead at 7:56 of the middle frame, but Austin Pratt potted a power-play marker just under two minutes later and the clubs were knotted at two heading into the final period.
It was midway through the contest that two fights broke out — involving Pratt and teammate Alex Alexeyev — and numerous players were assessed misconducts.
Sutter took offence with one of the Tri-City player’s actions during the middle stanza, which led to the Rebels boss engaging in a shouting match with Americans head coach Mike Williamson and the eventual expulsion of both.
“You can’t have a player coming to our bench and challenging it like their player did with ours,” said Sutter. “That shouldn’t happen.
“But our guys played hard, it was a physical game. We handled it real well. Our young guys did a really good job with it and our older guys responded the right way and provided the leadership we needed here tonight, especially in a game like this.”
Sutter, who dressed seven defencemen and 11 forwards, was particularly pleased with the showing of 19-year-old winger Jordan Roy, who was acquired from the Americans last season.
“He had a really good game,” said Sutter. “He responded to the stuff that was going on out there to make sure that it stayed under control.
“Our older players were really good here tonight.”
Rebels netminder Riley Lamb made 22 saves while Patrick Dea turned aside 25 shots in the Tri-City net. The Rebels were one-for-six on the power play; the Ams were zero-for-eight.
Red Deer will take on the Portland Winterhawks Saturday afternoon in the second-to-last game of the Tri-City preseason tournament.
The Rebels will close out their exhibition schedule Sept. 16 versus the Medicine Hat Tigers at the Centrium and will open regular-season play one week later against the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings.
Red Deer is 3-0 in preseason action this fall.

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