Hard luck Rebels can’t catch a break in loss to Broncos
Broncos 3 Rebels 2 (OT)
The hockey gods continue to frown on the Red Deer Rebels.
For a second consecutive night, the Rebels were labour-intensive Saturday at the Centrium but saw their WHL losing streak reach 11 games with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Swift Current Broncos in front of 4,135 fans.
“I definitely thought the effort was there tonight, the same as last night,” said captain Grayson Pawlenchuk, referring also to Friday’s 3-0 loss to the Moose Jaw Warriors.
“Things just aren’t going our way. Again, we hit a couple posts and a crossbar that could have changed the game around. But the work ethic was there so that part was good.”
Added GM/head coach Brent Sutter: “We played well again, I was happy with our effort. We did a lot of good things and again we had a lot of great scoring chances.
“We had some tough luck around the net, hit a few crossbars, a few posts. Leading up to the third period we’d given up five scoring chances. We didn’t give a whole lot.”
Down 2-1, the Rebels pulled even at 5:19 of the third period when Kristian Reichel took a power-play feed from Alexander Alexeyev and from the high slot beat Broncos netminder Joel Hofer with a blast to the short side.
The score held up through the remainder of the third period and after Mason McCarty was stopped by Hofer from close range in overtime, the visitors ended the contest on a goal by Max Patterson, just his second of the season.
The rangy forward cut across the front of the net and tucked the puck by goaltender Riley Lamb.
“The last three overtimes we’ve got beat with that very same goal,” said Sutter. “With a big forward who goes wide, you need support from everyone including your goalie on that play. And in the last three overtimes we haven’t got that.”
Pawlenchuk staked the Rebels to a 1-0 lead just past the midway point of the opening period, working a give-and-go with McCarty, circling behind the net and scoring on a wrap-around.
An apparent second Red Deer goal followed four minutes later, but was waved off when it was ruled that the puck was directed in by a skate.
The visitors replied with a power-play marker late in the period — with Glenn Gawdin pulling the trigger from the left faceoff circle — and teammate Matteo Gennaro scored from the right circle during a Broncos man advantage at 12:44 of the second period.
“Both of their power-play goals were scored within 15 seconds of the penalties (being assessed), and both came off faceoffs,” said Sutter. “Those are some tough breaks for our goalie.
“But again, our effort was very good. I was proud of the way we played without the puck. There was a lot of good signs tonight, but there’s nothing easy about it and we just have to stick with it.
“We could just as easily won tonight’s game. Like last night, we probably deserved to win, but it never happened for us. But if we stay with it good things will happen.”
Forward Josh Tarzwell played his first game with his new club following Friday’s trade that sent Lane Zablocki to the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Sutter was impressed by the Red Deer native and linemates Austin Schellenberg and Chris Douglas.
“That whole line was good,” said the Rebels boss. “They have speed, they play hard, they have some skill and they can shoot pucks. They had quite a bit of zone time tonight.
“Tarz had to try and get adjusted to the things that we do a little differently from where he came from. For it being his first game and not getting here until quarter to five, I thought he adjusted really well and played very well.”
Despite the Rebels being stuck in the throes of an extended losing string, Pawlenchuk said team morale remains high.
“It’s been pretty good. We’re trying to take the positives out of every game and trying to build off them and just keep getting better,” he said. “Eventually something will break and go our way and we’ll get that win.”
Notable: Lamb turned aside 32 shots while Hofer made 27 saves . . . The Broncos were without injured top guns Aleski Heponiemi and Tyler Steenbergen, who sit one-two in league scoring with a combined 130 points. Rebels veteran defenceman Brandon Schuldhaus sat out with the flu . . . Selected as the three stars were (1) Gawdin, (2) Reichel and (3) Pawlenchuk, all of whom had a goal and an assist . . . Pawlenchuk struck iron in the third period and Alexeyev rang shots off the crossbar in the second and third frames . . . The Rebels close out the pre-Christmas portion of their schedule next weekend with a Friday game at Medicine Hat and a home-ice engagement with the Tri-City Americans Saturday.