Slow start, penalties prove costly to Rebels

Rob Wallator

Broncos 3 Rebels 1

A third period push wasn’t enough to get the Red Deer Rebels to the finish line Saturday night at the Peavey Mart Centrium.
After a slow start, partly due to a rash of penalties, the Rebels came alive in the final frame. But despite outshooting the visiting Swift Current Broncos 14-7 over the last 20 minutes, they dropped a 3-1 decision in a chippy WHL contest viewed by 4,431 fans.

When it was all said and done, the hungrier team came away with the two points.

“They’re a desperate team,” Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk said of the Broncos, who entered the contest two points out of an Eastern Conference playoff berth. “They were more dialled in the first part of the game and that’s their desperation — where they’re probably in a win or out situation, or close to it.”

The visitors opened the scoring with a power play goal from Josh Filmon, who beat Rebels netminder Chase Coward from the right circle with a low shot through a crowd 6:28 into the game.

The Rebels answered just over six minutes later when defenceman Hunter Mayo took a feed from Kai Uchacz and notched his 16th goal — and 12th on the power play — of the season with a wrist shot from the high slot.

But the Broncos potted the eventual winner in the final minute of the period — again on the power play — as Matthew Ward, from the right circle, threw the puck at the net and it glanced off teammate Drew Englot and past Coward.

Mayo was assessed a double minor for high sticking early in the second period and rookie defenceman Quentin Bournce was penalized for delay of game six minutes later, preventing the Rebels from gaining any traction.

The Rebels erased all six minutes, but were unable to mount much of an attack.

“We killed off a lot of penalties. You start the second period with penalties and then with guys sitting so long, we didn’t get our feet moving,” said Konowalchuk.

Coward was the Rebels’ best penalty killer at that point and allowed his team to enter the third period down just one goal.

Red Deer was the better club through the final period and created at least a half dozen scoring chances. But they didn’t get a bounce and Broncos netminder Reid Dyck — the game’s first star — was stellar.

rebels 2

“The third period we got our feet moving, got a forecheck,” said Konowalchuk, whose squad posted a 2-0 win over the Broncos Friday night. “But at the start of the game we weren’t as good as we needed to be. We were hoping for an easier game which you knew we weren’t going to get.

“That to me was the difference in the game. We certainly gave ourselves a chance in the third, but killing that many penalties (earlier in the game), it was hard to get any momentum.”

While the Rebels carried the play through the majority of the third, the Broncos got the only goal — an empty-netter from Ward with 42 seconds remaining.

“That’s a big win for them. They were in a more desperate situation at the start of the game and they showed it,” said Konowalchuk.

“Last night we were able to match it if not a bit better. Tonight we let down especially at the start and we have to learn from it.”

Dyck turned aside 31 shots, including a breakaway by Ryker Singer, while Coward made 34 saves.

“He played good, he kept the game at one goal pretty much the entire game,” said Konowalchuk in reference to his goalie. “That’s hard to do. He was solid.”

Notable: Despite the win, the Broncos remain two points back of the eighth-place Calgary Hitmen, who were 2-0 winners at Medicine Hat . . . Selected as the second and third stars of the game were Rebels captain Jayden Grubbe and Ward . . . Swift Current was two-for-six on the power play, Red Deer one-for-three . . . The Rebels will close out their regular-season schedule next weekend with a home-and-home versus the Lethbridge Hurricanes — Friday on the road and Saturday at the Centrium — and will host their first two playoff games March 31 and April 1.

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