Hitmen fire three power play goals in preseason opening win over Rebels
Hitmen 6 Rebels 3
CALGARY — The Red Deer Rebels couldn’t handle the Calgary Hitmen power play Friday night in the WHL preseason opener for both teams.
The end result was a 6-3 loss at the Tsuut’ina Seven Chiefs Sportsplex.
Veteran Riley Fiddler-Schultz scored twice for the Hitmen, both on the power play as the home squad was a perfect three-for-three with a man advantage.
The teams meet again Saturday at the Peavey Mart Centrium, with the puck dropping at 7 p.m.
“It was definitely an exhibition game where there are nerves, mistakes, some good things,” said Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk. “It was definitely an exhibition game so you have to try to be a little bit patient.
“We’ll improve on some things.”
The Rebels started fast, getting a goal from defenceman Hunter Mayo a mere 33 seconds into the contest.
Fiddler-Schultz pulled the Hitmen even at the 14:07 mark and Carson Wetsch gave Calgary a permanent lead in the final minute of the opening frame.
The hosts fashioned a two-goal cushion on a goal from Anton Yatsyshin at 3:22 of the second period and Fiddler-Schultz made it 4-1 at 13:59.
Jhett Larson replied for the Rebels just 10 seconds later and Kalan Lind pulled Red Deer to within one with a power play tally early in the third period.
But that’s as close as the Rebels would get as the Hitmen pulled away on a goal from Tomis Marinkovic and a power play marker from David Adaszynski within a three-minute span.
Konowalchuk wasn’t a fan of the manner in which his charges managed the puck.
“That’s a big area we can improve on,” he said. “I give the players credit one way in that they wanted to do too much, but often it wasn’t the right play.”
Kyle Kelsey started in the Rebels net and stopped 23 of 26 shots before being replaced by Chase Wutzke at the midway point of the game. Wutzke allowed three goals on 18 shots.
Alex Garrett went the distance in the Calgary goal, making 31 saves.
“They (Hitmen) got some good looks. They got traffic and made it hard on the goalies,” said Konowalchuk. “It was a scrambly game from the net on out. But I don’t blame the goalies, it’s a team game.
“They looked like it was their first exhibition game and there were a lot of nerves from everybody. A lot of the players up front showed some nerves as did some of the defencemen.
“It was an exhibition game. It’s nice to get the first one out of the way and we’ll try and improve on it tomorrow.”
Notable: The Rebels dressed nine veterans . . . Larson picked up an assist to go with his goal. Talon Brigley, Vojtech Port and Craig Armstrong each contributed one helper . . . Red Deer was one-for-three on the power play.