Rebels suffer pair of narrow losses on Saskatchewan trip
The Red Deer Rebels, in the words of GM/head coach Brent Sutter “played well” for two periods of Saturday’s Western Hockey League road game versus the Swift Current Broncos.
And then . . .
“They scored a goal on their very first shift of the third period and then it was kind of back and forth without a lot of scoring chances,” Sutter said Sunday, looking back on the 4-2 loss.
With the Rebels up 2-1 after 40 minutes, Sylvan Lake product Tyler Steenbergen pulled the Broncos even with his league-leading 22nd goal of the season a mere 42 seconds into the final frame.
Kaden Elder gave the Broncos a 3-2 lead at 6:02 of the third, his fourth of the season holding up as the winner.
“It was just poor coverage in our zone and we let a shot get through that needed to be blocked and ended up in our net,” said Sutter of the winning marker. “It was a battle after that trying to tie it up.”
The Rebels could never find the tying goal. Instead, Steenbergen tallied his 23rd of the season into an empty net with 1:45 remaining.
Captain Grayson Pawlenchuk gave the Rebels a 1-0 lead after one period with his ninth goal of the season, and after Aleksi Heponiemi scored for the hosts at 4:23 of the middle frame, Jared Dmytriw’s fourth of the season in the final minute of the period restored Red Deer’s advantage.
“It’s just too bad because if we could have stayed with our game in the third period we would have possibly had a better outcome,” said Sutter.
“Last night we had two really good periods. We shook some things up with our lines and I kind of like the way it looked.”
Rebels netminder Ethan Anders turned aside 25 shots in front of 2,354 fans at the Credit Union i-Plex, while Logan Flodell made 22 saves for the Broncos.
While the Rebels boss was, for the most part, OK with his club’s performance at Swift Current, he was less than satisfied with the team’s showing the night before in a 4-3 loss to the Regina Pats. Both games were basically decided by a single goal, but Sutter didn’t like the view from the bench in Regina.
“I didn’t think we played well at all,” he said. “We just weren’t assertive and that’s not the way we want to play. We want to be a team that’s on its toes and jumping and going, and I just thought we played on our heels a lot that night.
“There were moments when we were fine and moments where we just sat back, and that’s not the way we want to play.”
The Rebels arrived back in Red Deer about 3:30 a.m. Sunday and will practise Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before departing on a five-game road trip Thursday, an eight-day jaunt that opens Friday versus the Kamloops Blazers.
Second-year netminder Riley Lamb will likely be ready to join the Rebels on their B.C. trip upon recovering from an upper-body injury he suffered in practice prior to the start of the regular season.
Whether he will take over the starters’ role from Anders right away remains to be seen.
“The bottom line is it’s going to take awhile for Lamber to get back into the swing of things,” said Sutter. “He’s missed a lot of time.”