Raiders 7 Rebels 3
Maybe it was a bad case of the mid-winter blues.
Maybe it was the three-games-in-four nights stretch.
Whatever it was, Monday night was not a good night for the Red Deer Rebels, who held the Prince Albert Raiders to 26 shots but still took it on the chin to the tune of 7-3 before a sparse gathering at the Peavey Mart Centrium.
“We weren’t ready, what can I say,” stated Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk. “From the coaching staff to the players, we weren’t ready.
“Very simple, you have to be ready to play. We weren’t ready to play and we didn’t get ourselves into it. We have veteran guys who know how to do that and we didn’t get ourselves into it.
“That’s frustrating . . . just a frustrating game.”
While the Rebels were terribly sloppy in their own zone during the opening period, they got to the first intermission tied at two.
Hayden Pakkala stuck first for the Raiders, his quick shot from the edge of the left circle getting past netminder Chase Coward 2:49 into the contest.
Liam Keeler responded for the Rebels shortly after, beating goaltender Tikhon Chalka with a one-timer following a corner pass from Blake Gustafson.
Reece Vitelli restored the visitors’ lead when a centering feed from Carson Latimer glanced off his skate and by Coward, but Arshdeep Bains took a nifty backhand feed from Ben King and answered for the home side to make it a 2-2 game before the eight-minute mark of the period.
Sloan Stanick gave the Raiders a permanent lead early in the middle frame, chipping a rebound off the end boards past Coward, who was replaced by Connor Ungar at that point.
Prince Albert then notched three of the next four goals in the period, with all three coming on the power play.
“I didn’t think we really had it for most of the night,” said Rebels forward Liam Keeler, whose second-period man-advantage marker followed a power-play goal by the Raiders’ Remy Aquilla.
“We got it back to 4-3 and felt like we were pushing a bit. But you can’t take penalties and give up three goals.”
Keeler’s second marker of the night, and his career-best 13th of the season, came on the heels of a major and game misconduct to the Raiders’ Trevor Thurston, who kneed Rebels’ newcomer Frantisek Formanek.
But as the Rebels started a second power play, defenceman Christoffer Sedoff was assessed an interference major and game misconduct and the Raiders scored twice on the back end of the five-minute infraction.
Ungar had little chance on the first goal by Landon Kosior and was screened on the next tally, off the stick of Evan Herman.
“It was a game where there just weren’t a lot of positives to take away,” said Konowalchuk. “Usually you have one or two guys who aren’t having maybe their best game. We just didn’t have a lot of guys having their best game tonight and that’s the result you get.”
The setback was Red Deer’s second in four nights. Following a 4-1 home-ice loss to Brandon Friday, the Rebels rebounded to down the host Medicine Hat Tigers 5-2 Sunday.
“Last night was a totally opposite game,” said Konowalchuk. “We played smart and everyone was into it. Tonight wasn’t a fun game for the players I’m sure and it wasn’t a fun night for the coaches as well.”
Coward, who returned to the net at the start of the third period, gave up the game’s final goal to Red Deer native Harrison Lodewyk — the first of his WHL career — with less than five minutes remaining.
“Top to bottom tonight we weren’t good enough,” said Keeler. “We have to learn from that and kind of use this adversity to move forward and be better.
“We have a ton of belief in our group. It’s hard to go through a 68-game season without adversity, so we have to use this. I think that whenever we’ve had a bad game this year we’ve been able to respond and I think that shows the character in our group.”
Notable: Coward stopped 15 of the 19 shots he faced during his 41 minutes and 42 seconds of action, while Ungar blocked four of seven shots in 18:18. Chalka made 26 saves for the Raiders . . . Formanek was helped off the ice after being kneed by Thurston and didn’t return to the game . . . The Raiders were three-for-six on the power play, the Rebels one-for-three . . . The recorded attendance was 2,418 . . . The three stars: (1) Kosior, (2) Latimer and (3) Keeler . . . The trade deadline came and passed Monday and the Rebels weren’t involved in any of the deals that went down. GM Brent Sutter did his heaving lifting the previous week when he acquired veteran defenceman Jackson van de Leest from the Calgary Hitmen.