Wheat Kings 2 Rebels 1
BRANDON — On a night when they were facing a razor-sharp goaltender, the Red Deer Rebels could have used a special teams goal in the worst way.
Unfortunately, none were forthcoming and the Rebels were edged 2-1 Friday by the Brandon Wheat Kings before 3,153 fans at Westoba Place, despite directing 42 shots at netminder Jiri Patera.
“We played well, but we needed our power play to get us something tonight. It didn’t produce,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, whose squad was zero-for-four with a man advantage.
The Rebels carried the majority of the play in all three periods, but trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes and didn’t draw even until late in the second frame.
Luka Burzan converted a centering pass from Marcus Kallionkieli in the final minute of the first period and the Rebels were finally rewarded when Dallon Melin buried a rebound following a great rush to the net by Jace Isley.
The hosts got the winning goal off the stick of Marcus Sekundiak at 11:01 of the third period, his backhand from the low slot beating Rebels goaltender Byron Fancy.
“We played well, we competed. Outside of their second goal, where the guy was standing open in the slot, we were good in our own zone,” said Sutter.
“We did a lot of good things, but we needed something from our power play. We had a five-on-three and missed the net on three shots.”
While Patera served notice early that he was going to be tough to beat — stoning Josh Tarzwell on a breakaway set up by an impressive flip pass from rookie Jayden Grubbe, and taking a goal away from Cam Hausinger — Fancy was also excellent.
“Byron played great,” said Sutter.
Fancy wasn’t as busy as his counterpart, making 21 saves, but he made a great pad stop on Lynden McCallum and later denied him on a breakaway, and also robbed Ridly Greig and Burzan.
But the Rebels fell just short on a night when one more goal would have earned them at least a point.
“Our power play has to help us,” said Sutter. “We don’t score easy so when you get that man advantage you have to capitalize on it every now and then.”
The Rebels conclude their four-game East Division trip with a Saturday meeting with the Winnipeg Ice and former teammate and captain Dawson Barteaux, who was dealt to the Ice at Friday’s WHL trade deadline.
Red Deer’s next home game is Jan. 18 versus the Prince Albert Raiders.