Third-period goal lifts Blades over Rebels; Sutter signs one player, trades another
Blades 3 Rebels 2
SASKATOON — On a day of change, the Red Deer Rebels’ luck remained the same.
One coverage mistake proved costly in a 3-2 Western Hockey League loss to the Saskatoon Blades before 3,169 fans at SaskTel Centre.
With the score knotted at 2-2 midway through the third period, Blades defenceman Jake Kustra moved in from the point, skated past Rebels forward Austin Pratt and converted a down low feed from Braylon Shmyr.
“I thought we played really well tonight. We didn’t give up much and we did a lot of good things,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, who earlier in the day signed 16-year-old forward Alex Morozoff, who scored in his Red Deer debut, and traded defenceman Brandon Schuldhaus to the Moose Jaw Warriors.
“But you make that one mistake, a mistake you can’t make,” Sutter continued. “You have to be able to pick your guy up in your own zone. It’s a back door play and Pratter lets his guy go. He’s puck watching, not watching his man. The guy drives the net and scores.”
Otherwise, Pratt and his teammates turned in a solid effort that could easily have resulted in a positive result.
“I liked our overall game. We gave up only nine or 10 scoring chances all night,” said Sutter. “And we had some chances in the third too, a couple breakaways.
“0ur kids played well. The whole team played well. But again, we’re staying below that line and we have to get above it.”
Shmyr tallied in the final minute of the opening period to snap a scoreless tie, cutting to the net and beating Red Deer netminder Riley Lamb with a backhand move.
Reese Johnson evened the count at 8:44 of the middle frame, whipping a shot past Saskatoon goaltender Nolan Maier from the top of the right circle, and Morozoff scored on the power play five minutes later to give the visitors their only lead of the night.
Morozoff, a Saskatoon native, hauled in a pass from Johnson, moved across the front of the net and slid the puck under Maier’s pads.
Bradly Goethals made it a 2-2 game just under three minutes later and the Blades pulled out the win in the third period despite giving up a handful of excellent scoring chances. Austin Schellenberg was denied from close range and Johnson failed to connect on a short-handed breakaway and on another occasion fired high after splitting the defence.
Notable: Lamb made 24 saves, two more than Maier . . . The Rebels were one-for-two on the power play and killed off the only penalty they were assessed, a delay-of-game call on Hunter Donohoe . . . Selected as the game’s three stars were (1) Shmyr, (2) Johnson and (3) Kustra.
Schuldhaus traded, Morozoff signs
The lure of getting an experienced player in return, along with a pair of high draft picks, was enough for Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter to deal defenceman Brandon Schuldhaus to Moose Jaw Friday.
“They wanted a different element and probably at the end of the day we were looking at a different element,” said the Rebels boss, who got rearguard Colin Paradis in the exchange of 19-year-olds, along with a second-round pick in each of the 2019 and 2020 bantam drafts.
Red Deer also relinquished a fourth-round pick in 2020.
“We were looking for more of a puck moving, steady guy, and Colin does that,” Sutter said of the six-foot, 181-pound native of Sherwood Park. “He’s a guy who can move pucks and he’s just a steady player. There’s nothing flashy about him but he’s smart.
“Moose Jaw is getting a bigger guy who fits in good with their defence. It’s a trade that fits well for both teams and when you get offered two seconds . . . it’s nice to have.”
Paradis, who this season — his fourth in the league — has scored once and added three assists in 37 games and is a plus-six player, will be in the Rebels lineup for Saturday’s game versus the host Prince Albert Raiders.
Red Deer closes out its three-game road trip with a Sunday meeting with the Swift Current Broncos.
° After meeting with Alex Morozoff last week,Sutter got the 16-year-old’s name on a WHL standard player contract Friday.
Morozoff, selected by the Rebels in the fourth round of the 2016 WHL bantam draft, made quite an impact at the recent Macs tournament in Calgary. As a member of the Saskatoon Contacts, he was the top scorer in the tournament and was selected as an all star and the MVP of the prestigious event.
Based on his play Friday, the Rebels appear to have a keeper in the six-foot, 174-pound forward, who not only scored, but showed a creative side.
“He’s a skilled player. He makes plays and he’s smart with the puck,” said Sutter.
In an earlier move, Sutter reassigned forward Lukas McKenzie to the Okotoks Oilers of the AJHL Thursday.