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Rebels looking to rebound from inconsistent three-game stretch

Photos by Rob Wallator

The Rebels suffered from a mild case of hiccups during their most recent three-game stretch, but are confident they can get their breathing habits back to normal in short order.

“For us, we just have to find that consistency we were playing with a couple of weeks ago,” team captain Jayden Grubbe said Wednesday, in the aftermath of a one-win, two-loss WHL run over four days. “We had a stretch of 10 games where we only had one regulation loss and were playing pretty consistent, our compete and effort every night were there.

“I think it’s just a matter of getting back to that.”

The Rebels will attempt to do just that when they travel to Lethbridge Friday to face the Hurricanes and then host the Moose Jaw Warriors Saturday.

Coming off a pandemic-related two-week break, the Rebels were flat in a 4-1 loss to Brandon last Friday, bounced back to win 5-2 in Medicine Hat the following night and were bounced 7-3 by the visiting Prince Albert Raiders Monday.

All three clubs are below the Rebels in the league standings, but in this age of parity there are very few — if any — teams who can be regarded as pushovers.

“You have to be ready to play every game. You have to prepare properly for every single game for that reason,” said Rebels first-year assistant coach Mike Egener, a hard-nosed defenceman with the Calgary Hitmen in the early 2000s.

“There are no easy games in this league. Even a team like Medicine Hat (with a 7-24-3-1 record), that game the other night could have easily been 3-3. You’re going to get tough match-ups every single night.

“It’s just a different game now. The parity amongst the league is good with every team. It’s important that you never disrespect your opponent either. You have to show up to play every game like you’re playing the best team in the league, that has to be your mindset every night.

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“I think that’s part of the learning process for these young hockey players too, that you can’t go into any game thinking it’s going to be easy. You have to prepare the same way every game.”

And when you’re a top-three team in the conference, which the Rebels are with a 23-11-2-1 mark, opposing squads will always bring their A-game, Grubbe added.

“When you’ve proven you can be a top team a lot of teams are getting up to play you,” he said. “You can’t take any team lightly and I think that’s just something that we have to learn and grow from. There are not going to be any easy nights.”

Despite the slight lapse, the Rebels are still a very confident bunch, convinced that they can hang with the best the league has to offer. After all, they’ve proven their worth.

“We believe in each other, we believe in the group that we have. I think that’s a huge thing,” said Grubbe. “For us, it’s just a matter of bouncing back.

“Whenever we’ve had a tough game we’ve bounced back pretty well and that’s our goal for Friday.”

The fact they had to play three games over a four day stretch might have played a role in the Rebels’ inability to win more than one of the contests, Egener suggested.

“But we don’t want to make excuses,” he added. “When it comes down to it we have to find a way to get back to playing the gritty game that we play . . . be good with details, little things that we’ve seen solid at all year long.

“We went through a bit of adversity during two of those three games, now it’s just getting back to our work ethic and compete level. The details are big.”

Notable: Czech import forward Frantisek Formanek was helped off the ice during Monday’s game after being kneed by Raiders defenceman Trevor Thurston. He didn’t return but has since been cleared to play. Forward Kai Uchacz (lower body, indefinite) is the lone Rebel on the WHL injury list . . . Centre Ben King was honoured prior to Monday’s game as the recipient of the Mitchell and Jewell Rebels Player of the Month award for December.

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