Rebels 5 Tigers 2
MEDICINE HAT — The Red Deer Rebels looked nothing like the team that lost to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings two nights previous.
Coming off a pandemic-related two-week break, the Rebels didn’t have their usual jump or finishing touch against the Wheat Kings, but they were back in fine form Sunday, bouncing the Medicine Hat Tigers 5-2 before fans at the Co-op Centre.
“I guess you could say we were sharper, that we got the rust off today,” said head coach Steve Konowalchuk. “It was a solid game by our guys, right from the start.”
The Rebels got off to a great start in fact with three unanswered first-period markers.
Defenceman Hunter Mayo opened the scoring 5:19 into the contest when he accepted a pass from Kalan Lind and beat netminder Beckett Langkow from the high slot. For Mayo it was his first goal in the Western Hockey League.
Liam Keeler made it 2-0 exactly three minutes later, ripping a rising shot past Beckett from the right circle, and Christoffer Sedoff, on the power play, scored with a slap shot from the left circle at 10:32 after Ben King fed him from the corner.
The Tigers battled back with a pair of quick goals early in the middle frame. Teague Patton cashed a rebound at 5:34 and Brenden Lee connected just 34 seconds later with a one-timer from the slot.
But that was it for the Tigers, who couldn’t bury again and surrendered a pair of third-period goals.
“There was a little adversity. They scored on a couple chances and the next thing you know it’s 3-2 and it’s a hockey game,” said Konowalchuk.
“But our guys bounced right back and played a good game coming out of the period.”
The Rebels gave up very little in the defensive zone down the stretch as goaltender Connor Ungar faced just eight shots in the final period.
Meanwhile, Arshdeep Bains gave the visitors some breathing room when he took a nifty spin pass from King and wired home his 17th goal of the season at the 4:06 mark, and King notched his 24th just over nine minutes later, converting a rebound from the edge of the crease.
Konowalchuk liked his team’s performance as a group, but was particularly impressed with big defenceman Jackson van de Leest, who was acquired from the Calgary Hitmen last Tuesday and made his Rebels debut against Brandon.
“I liked Jackson’s game the first game but I thought he picked it up another notch today,” said the Rebels bench boss. He moved the puck up quick and looked a little more comfortable. That was a big part of today’s game.
“He was real solid but then the whole team was solid.”
The Rebels host the Prince Albert Raiders Monday.
Notable: Ungar faced only 21 shots with his best save being a sliding stop on a one-timer from Bogdans Hodass. Langkow made 32 saves at the other end, including a third-period breakaway stop on Dallon Melin . . . The game was Keeler’s 250th of his WHL career. The Edmonton native also turned 21 Sunday and celebrated with his 11th goal of the season . . . The three stars: (1) King, who had two assists to go with his goal, (2) Langkow and (3) Sedoff, who contributed a goal and one helper . . . The Rebels were one-for-five on the power play, the Tigers zero-for-three.