The usual suspects were front and centre in the Red Deer Rebels’ most recent road trip, a jaunt into the WHL’s Eastern Conference that produced three consecutive wins.
Leading scorer Brandon Hagel recorded five points (3g,2q) in a 9-4 rout of the Regina Pats, Brett Davis and Cam Hausinger collected their fair share of points on the trip, captain Reese Johnson scored his 19th of the season and Jeff de Wit netted his 22nd.
But the Rebels also received some all important secondary scoring. Defenceman Dawson Barteaux notched his fifth goal of the season, Zak Smith scored his eighth and ninth — including the winner at Swift Current where he was named first star — Josh Tarzwell potted his eighth and also added an assist while being named second star in Regina, and Chris Douglas upped his total to 11.
“It was definitely good to get three wins on the road. We need to start piling up some wins before we head on our long road trip,” Johnson said Thursday, referencing also to the Rebels’ US Division swing in February.
“It was definitely a team effort and I think that’s how we’ll have success in the future.”
Besides the club’s somewhat balanced scoring during the successful trip that also included a 5-3 win at Brandon, Johnson liked the Rebels aggressive style in all three outings.
“I really liked our forecheck in all three games,” he said. “I think that allowed us to get lots of time in the offensive zone and create lots of chances.
“We were really good that way, for sure.”
Next up for the Rebels is a crucial two-games series with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Friday in the southern Alberta city and Saturday at the Centrium.
The Edmonton Oil Kings lead the Central Division with 56 points, while the ‘Canes hold down second spot with 54, the Rebels sit third with 53 and the Medicine Hat Tigers are another point back.
The Rebels, however, have games in hand on all three rivals, including five on the Oil Kings.
“Obviously our division is pretty tight. Everyone knows that and we sure do for sure,” said Johnson. “We know it’s going to be a battle tomorrow night and Saturday night at home. But we’re just focusing on tomorrow and we’re going to go there looking for a win.”
The Rebels will head into Lethbridge harbouring no shortage of confidence thanks to three straight triumphs on the road.
“It’s always nice winning on the road, especially when you have a long bus trip back,” said Johnson. “It’s a little more fun on the bus when you’re hanging out with the boys and you can enjoy it.”
Red Deer will wrap up a busy weekend with a Sunday afternoon date with the host Calgary Hitmen.
Notable: Rebels rearguard Jacob Herauf is listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury . . . The Rebels will wear Don Cherry themed uniforms in a Jan. 25 game versus the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers. The special threads will be worn as part of the WHL’s participation in a series of events across league markets promoting the importance of organ donations and supporting the Kidney Foundation of Canada.