Rebels roll over Hitmen in impressive fashion

Brett Holmes

Rebels 9 Hitmen 0

CALGARY — On an afternoon that the Calgary Hitmen honoured their namesake, legendary pro wrestler Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart, the Red Deer Rebels tossed their hosts clear out of the ring.

Losers in overtime to the Hitmen the previous night in Red Deer, the Rebels came off the ropes and delivered a series of body slams to the home side in a 9-0 demolition witnessed by 6,824 fans at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The visitors got a hat trick from Jhett Larson and struck five times on the power play en route to the one-sided victory.

“They were certainly focused. They wanted to respond after a very emotional loss yesterday,” said Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk.

“They came out focused and skating and everybody was committed. It was definitely fun to watch our guys play with good purpose.”

While the shots were fairly even in the first period the Rebels struck for four goals, then really put their foot down the rest of the way, connecting five times in the middle frame and outshooting their hosts 23-7 in a scoreless third period.

Kai Uchacz potted the eventual winner a mere 3:34 into the game. Christoffer Sedoff, from the half boards, directed the puck at the net and it glanced off the skate of Frantisek Formanek and right onto the stick of Uchacz, who calmly notched his 49th of the season into basically an open net.

Larson scored his first of three at the midway point of the period, cashing in on a give-and-go with Ollie Josephson. Three minutes later, he got credit for his second of the day when Jayden Grubbe’s shot off the post glanced off his skate and past netminder Ethan Buenaventura during a Rebels power play.

Craig Armstrong closed out the opening period onslaught with another man-advantage marker, tipping home a feed from Christoffer Sedoff.

“I wanted the guys to come out and respond like they did and just tighten up and play with a lot of the same pace I thought they played with yesterday,” said Konowalchuk.

The Rebels added to their lead with a pair of power play goals in the first two minutes and change of the second frame.

Larson completed his hat trick when he came out of the penalty box, broke in alone and went five-hole with a backhand, then Mats Lindgren scored his 11th of the season with a point shot through a crowd.

That spelled the end for Buenaventura who was replaced by Brayden Peters. The veteran goaltender wasn’t spared however, as Grubbe beat him with a backhand after winning a puck battle in the right circle and cutting to the front of the net, Carson Birnie struck on a two-on-one with Jace Isley and defenceman Hunter Mayo — on the power play — scored his 16th of the season with a blast from the middle slot.

The Rebels kept the pedal down the in the third period and only Peters’ heroics kept them off the board.

“They had a good third period, kept their emotions in check in a game that sometimes could get chippy,” Konowalchuk said of his troops, who took three third-period penalties Friday night, the third one proving costly.“There was a lot to build off the way that game ended yesterday. There were good things in the game, also things that ended up losing us the game,” he added. 

“Some of the issues we had to clean up and we certainly did. The guys were even a little more focused against a good hockey team. They went out and played well today.”

Peters stopped 32 of 35 shots after Buenaventura made 16 saves on 22 shots. Rebels netminder Kyle Kelsey was selected as the game’s third star with a 25-save shutout.

Notable: Larson and Lindgren were named first and second stars . . . The Rebels were five-for-seven with a man advantage and killed off all three Hitmen power plays . . . Joining Larson with a multiple-point game were Lindgren (1g,2a), Sedoff (0-2), Josephson (0-2), and Mayo, Grubbe, Armstrong and Birnie, each with a goal and an assist . . . The Rebels are idle until next weekend when they host the Swift Current Broncos Friday and Saturday.

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