Rebels drop final preseason contest to Hitmen

Hitmen 6 Rebels 2

CALGARY — Another WHL preseason game, another day in the classroom for the Red Deer Rebels younger — 17 and under — players.

“It was another learning experience for our young guys,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, following a 6-2 loss to the Calgary Hitmen Sunday before 4,944 fans at Scotiabank Saddledome.

It was a rough learning experience early on for the Rebels youngsters, who trailed 4-1 after one period of the game that featured four-on-four play through two 15-minute second and third periods.

Evan Toth opened the scoring for the hosts a mere 74 seconds into the contest, and after Red Deer rookie Jayden Grubbe evened the count shortly after, the Hitmen pulled away with first-period markers off the sticks of Jonas Peterek, Riley Fiddler-Schultz and Adam Kydd.

“Things happen in game situations at this level. You have to be able to react properly and make the right decisions with pucks,” said Sutter.

Fiddler-Schultz potted his second of the afternoon at 5:45 of the middle frame, spelling the end for Rebels  starting netminder Byron Fancy, who allowed five goals on 13 shots.

“We got some tough goals scored on us. We needed some saves,” said Sutter, who dressed only four returning players — Fancy, forward Dallon Melin and defencemen Ryan Gottfried and Chase Leslie.

Ethan Anders replaced Fancy after the fifth Calgary goal and stopped 16 of the 17 shots he faced the rest of the way.

Jace Isley drew the Rebels within three with a goal at 8:09 of the second period and Josh Prokop replied for the hosts 52 seconds later to round out the scoring.

The Rebels were zero-for-four on the power play, the Hitmen zero-for-three.

Jack McNaughton made 10 saves on 12 shots for Calgary, while backup Ethan Hein blocked both shots he faced.

The Rebels’ regular-season opener is next Saturday versus the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings.

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