Rebels 6 Broncos 2
SWIFT CURRENT — The Red Deer Rebels rolled into Swift Current on Wednesday and kicked sand in the face of the hometown Western Hockey League team.
The Broncos entered the contest as losers of their previous 17 games and the Rebels added to their woes, firing 48 shots at a pair of Swift Current netminders in a dominant 6-2 victory.
“We were real solid tonight,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, whose squad got a two-goal outing from rookie winger Jaxsen Wiebe and a 22-save performance from Byron Fancy. “The whole group was really good.”
In short, there wasn’t a single passenger on the Rebels’ bench.
The visitors struck for three goals just over five minutes apart in the opening period and never looked back despite surrendering the next two goals.
Wiebe notched his seventh of the season 8:36 into the game, backhanding a rebound past netminder Isaac Poulter following a point shot by Mason Ward, and Zak Smith connected 44 seconds later on a redirect of a blueline shot by Blake Gustafson.
Dallon Melin’s eighth of the season at 13:45 was the eventual winner. The goal was of the highlight-reel variety as the second-year winger cruised over the blueline, cut around a defenceman and then to the front of the net, and banked the puck off Poulter’s pad and in.
The Broncos got on the board shortly after Melin’s goal as Sergei Alkhimov buried from close range, and the hosts pulled to within one early in the second period with Hayden Ostir beating Fancy with a backhand from the left circle.
But that was it for the home side as the Rebels struck for another three goals prior to the second intermission.
The Rebels will join the Broncos as playoff spectators this spring but the team is clearly intent on going all out down the stretch despite the players knowing their season will be over in a week and a half.
“It’s character,” said Sutter. “We’ve talked about making sure we have a winning mindset when we come back next fall. We want to be a good team and a winning team.
“You want to push the pace here to finish the season off the right way . . . play hard and do the right things so you’ll come back and understand what you have to do to be successful.”
Goals by Ethan Sakowich, on the power play, and Wiebe within a 50-second span dashed the Broncos’ hopes of a comeback. Sakowich found the back of the net from the top of the left circle and Wiebe converted a corner pass from Jayden Grubbe.
Cam Hausinger, who sat out Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime loss at Medicine Hat due to an illness, rounded out the Red Deer onslaught with a power-play goal from a scramble at 14:21 of the middle frame.
Hausinger drew an assist earlier in the game and then completed a Gordie Howe hat trick when he fought D-Jay Jerome in a scoreless third period.
Poulter was yanked after Red Deer’s sixth goal and finished with 29 saves. Isaiah DiLaura stopped all 13 shots he faced in relief.
Notable: Wiebe was selected as the game’s first star, with Ostir and Hausinger getting the second- and third-star nods . . . The Rebels were two-for-three on the power play while the Broncos were zero-for-five . . . Rebels defenceman Chase Leslie recorded three assists . . . The Rebels are home to the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday . . . Former Red Deer star Brandon Hagel made his NHL debut with the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday. Hagel had four shots on net during 11:48 of ice time in a 6-2 win over the San Jose Sharks.