Rebels battle back but fall to Warriors in overtime
Warriors 4 Rebels 3 (OT)
Five out of six isn’t bad at all.
The Red Deer Rebels finished off a three-game WHL road trip Saturday with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Moose Jaw Warriors before a recorded crowd of 2,566 at Mosaic Place.
Considering the Rebels won the first two games of the trip into the East Division, the setback was anything but the end of the world after battling back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to earn the point, giving them five of a possible six on the excursion.
“We weren’t as sharp today as we should be,” said Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk. “We didn’t start good. We had some guys going and some guys not going.”
Brayden Yager, a right hand shot, gave the Warriors an early lead when he drove down the left side and released a shot that beat netminder Chase Wutzke over his glove.
The lead held up through the remainder of the opening period before Eric Alarie made it a 2-0 game two minutes into the second frame, cashing a rebound with a backhand while stationed in front of the net.
The Rebels got back into the contest midway through the second when Jace Isley pounced on a loose puck following a faceoff just outside the Warriors blueline and beat goalie Jackson Unger from the high slot.
“I give that line credit,” said Konowalchuk of the trio of Isley, Jayden Grubbe and Dallon Melin. “They kind of got the momentum back for us and back into the game. That line was skating all night . . . a good job by them.”
The Rebels pulled even on the power play late in the period when Christoffer Sedoff moved between the circles and ripped a high shot past Unger.
“Towards the end of the first and second periods we found ourselves, and then in the third penalties kept us from getting any momentum,” said Konowalchuk, whose club was outshot 11-3 in the third frame.
The Warriors regained the lead when Robert Baco scored on a two-on-one break, but the Rebels responded three minutes later on a two-on-one of their own, with Blake Stevenson burying a feed from Kalan Lind.
Moose Jaw needed just 65 seconds to earn the extra point when Jagger Firkus notched the overtime winner.
“Overall, in a game when we didn’t have everyone going we were able to get a point,” said Konowalchuk. “Now we’ll head back, get back to work and move forward.
“I still expect us to play better but we have a good group of guys and we can build off this.”
Chase Wutzke, a 15-year-old second-round pick of the Rebels in the WHL Prospects Draft in early December, made his third straight appearance in the Red Deer net with regulars Connor Ungar and Chase Coward unavailable, and stopped 26 shots.
“He played well, he was part of the reason we got a point,” said Konowalchuk. “He was one of the guys who stepped up and gave us a chance to win.”
The Rebels were one-for-four on the power play and perfect four-for-four on the penalty kill.
“That might be the best our penalty kill has looked,” said Konowalchuk.
The Rebels were en route to Red Deer following the game and will be back on the ice Monday to prepare for home games against the Edmonton Oil Kings and Lethbridge Hurricanes Friday and Saturday.
Notable: Forward Josh Medernach, out since September with a lower body injury, made his season debut with the Rebels . . . Stevenson was Red Deer’s lone multi-point player with a goal and assist . . . The three stars: (1) Alarie, (2) Sedoff and (3) Baco.