Rebels lack spark in loss to Ice
Ice 5 Rebels 1
In a game they were hoping to use as a measuring stick, the Red Deer Rebels didn’t measure up to the Winnipeg Ice Saturday night.
The Ice, aka The Beasts of the East, were first to pucks most of the night and potted three quick second-period goals en route to a 5-1 WHL win before 4,658 fans at the Peavey Mart Centrium.
The legs were willing for the most part, but the Rebels couldn’t shake the aggressive forecheck of the Canadian Hockey League’s top-ranked team and its ability to take advantage of defensive miscues.
Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk didn’t see the usual intensity from his team, and that lack of spark led to a disastrous middle frame.
“The second period was a frustrating period, not just the goals but the (lack of) emotion, the energy,” he said. “The adversity we hit in the second period, we seemed to give in to it a bit. Instead of digging in, we just didn’t really have a lot of emotion and enthusiasm which is usually a good quality of our team.”
The visitors struck just 1:32 into the contest when Connor McClennon buried a rebound from a goalmouth scramble, and the score remained 1-0 until early in the second frame when Karter Prosofsky’s shot from just inside the point beat a screened Red Deer netminder Kyle Kelsey.
Shortly after, Matthew Savoie cashed a rink-wide feed from Ben Zloty with the Ice enjoying a two-man advantage, and Zack Ostapchuk notched another power-play goal exactly one minute later, backhanding a rebound past Kelsey.
The Rebels finally responded on the power play as Mats Lindgren, from the right circle, beat goaltender Mason Beaupit to the short side late in the period, but the damage was basically already done.
Red Deer appeared to score just three minutes prior to Lindgren’s goal, but it was waived off due to what the referee felt was incidental contact between Rebels forward Carson Birnie and Beaupit.
“We get frustrated every game with certain calls, but no way do I blame this game on officiating with the way the game went,” said Konowalchuk, who was livid with the decision to disallow the goal.
“But the calls are frustrating.”
The Ice notched their fifth marker just prior to the midway point of the third period, with Vladislav Shilo connecting on a one-timer from the high slot following a nifty feed from defenceman Carson Lambos.
The Rebels were one-for-five on the power play on a night their man-advantage units didn’t have many great looks. Winnipeg was two-for-five with one or more Rebels in the box.
“We had power plays early that we weren’t very sharp on. We could have maybe made it a 1-1 game,” said Konowalchuk.
“That’s three games in a row against these guys that we haven’t won the special teams battle,” he added, referring also to 3-1 and 7-4 setbacks in Winnipeg in early November.
“Part of that is taking penalties and part of it is executing on both sides. Three games in a row we haven’t been sharp enough against this team.”
The Ice, who have played five fewer games than the Rebels, moved back into first place in the Eastern Conference, one point clear of Red Deer.
“It’s a good team over there, but for me I’m looking at what we have to do differently,” said Konowalchuk.
“We made some mistakes in the second period and instead of fighting through and facing adversity we fell flat. We have to learn from that.
“I know we’re better than that, I know our guys are better than that and I know we’ll be better than that. It was certainly a disappointing game.”
Notable: The Rebels were without forward Craig Armstrong, who served a one-game suspension for being assessed a double minor for a slew foot in Friday’s 5-1 win over Saskatoon . . . Kelsey made 33 saves, including several of the difficult variety, while Beaupit stopped 25 shots . . . The three stars: (1) Lambos, who picked up four assists, (2) Savoie (1g,1a) and (3) King, who along with Christoffer Sedoff assisted on Red Deer’s lone goal . . . The Rebels host Connor Bedard and the Regina Pats in a sold-out contest Tuesday at the Centrium, then head west on a US Division trip that starts next Saturday in Spokane.