Warriors 3 Rebels 0
A combination of zero breaks and a scintillating opposition goaltender sometimes equals no goals for the team that deserved a better fate.
Such was the case Saturday night at the Centrium, where the Red Deer Rebels carried the play to the Moose Jaw Warriors basically from start to finish but were blanked 3-0 before 3,717 fans.
Warriors netminder Adam Evanoff was a virtual stone wall, turning aside 46 shots for his first shutout of the season. The Rebels created numerous 10-bell scoring opportunities, including several down the stretch, but Evanoff simply couldn’t, and wouldn’t, be beat.
“Obviously we were having a tough time in the offensive zone scoring goals. Their goalie was very good,” said Red Deer GM/head coach Brent Sutter.
The Rebels boss felt, however, that his charges might have made life too easy for Evanoff, who made 14 saves in each of the first and second periods and 18 in the third.
He was especially stellar in the dying minutes, robbing Cam Hausinger and Chris Douglas from close range, for starters, and generally resembling a road block on skates.
“I thought up until the last three minutes we didn’t have a lot of urgency offensively,” said Sutter. “We were soft on pucks, we fluttered pucks to the net.
“We had no hardness around the net, didn’t win a lot of battles, didn’t get a lot of second and third opportunities until the last three to five minutes of the game.”
The contest was scoreless until the first minute of the third period when the Warriors’ top two forwards combined on the only goal the visitors would need, as it turned out.
A mere one second after a Red Deer penalty expired, Anaheim Ducks prospect Brayden Tracey, from behind the net, threw the puck out front to Ryder Korczak who ripped a high one-timer past netminder Ethan Anders.
“We needed a kill early in the third, we had 20 some (25) seconds to kill,” said Sutter. “We don’t win the faceoff, they get in the zone and capitalize.”
Former Rebels defenceman Carson Sass drew an assist on the second goal just over six minutes later as his point shot glanced off a body and right onto the stick of Tate Popple, who banked it off the post and in.
Sutter pulled Anders with 3:05 left in favour of an extra attacker and the Rebels poured on the pressure. But Evanoff stood tall and Popple scored into an empty net with seven seconds remaining.
“Credit to them, they stayed with it,” Sutter said of the Warriors. “And we broke tonight. We had 40 some shots on net but you can dismiss a lot of that because their goalie saw a lot of those shots too.”
Anders, making his first start in more than a month due to a lower body injury, had to be sharp early in the game and finished with 21 saves.
Notable: Both teams were zero-for-two on the power play . . . Evanoff was the obvious first star of the game with Rebels rookie centre Jayden Grubbe selected as second star and Korczak getting the nod as third star . . . Rebels first-year defenceman Christoffer Sedoff will play in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Jan. 16 in Hamilton, Ont., where he will suit up with Team White . . . The Rebels head out Monday on a four-game East Division road trip, starting Tuesday versus the Prince Albert Raiders. Red Deer is in Saskatoon the following night then visits Brandon and Winnipeg Friday and Saturday . . . The Rebels next home game is Jan. 18 against the Raiders, one night after they pay the Lethbridge Hurricanes a visit.