Rebels battle hard but fall just short in Swift Current
By DANNY RODE
SWIFT CURRENT, SK – If anything the Red Deer Rebels should have been the team looking to find their legs in the third period of their WHL contest with the Swift Current Broncos Tuesday.
After all the Rebels were playing their fifth game in seven days while the Broncos were sitting at home resting the past two days.
However, the Rebels played some of their best hockey of the road trip in the third period, outshooting the Broncos 20-6. But in the end, they simply couldn’t do enough against netminder Reid Dyck, the reigning WHL Goaltender of the Week, and dropped a 4-3 decision before 2,013 fans at the InnovationPlex.
The loss left the Rebels with a 0-3-0-2 record in their eastern excursion.
While Rebels head coach Derrick Walser saw some positives in the contest, he still sees room for improvement.
“Still not good enough,” he said. “We give up an early goal and it puts us back on our heels. We get things back on track in some areas and then take some bad penalties at the wrong times.
“That just takes the momentum away when we were getting things going and let them off the hook.”
The Rebels took a penalty just 51 seconds into the game and that gave the Broncos the momentum they needed.
Just 46 seconds later Connor Geekie notched his first of three goals, and 27th of the season, and the Broncos were on their way to a 2-0 first period lead while outshooting the Rebels 18-6.
Peyton Kettles scored his WHL first goal at the 10:03 mark.
The Rebels found their footing in the middle stanza with Kalan Lind connecting on his 11th of the season at 1:02 and Ollie Josephson converting a Talon Brigley pass to tie the game at 5:31.
However, Geekie, who was playing his 10th game of the season with the Broncos since being picked up in a blockbuster trade with Wenatchee, put the Broncos up for good at 9:59 on just their second shot of the period.
The Rebels outshot the Broncos 10-3 in the second period and continued that into the third.
However, Geekie, on the Broncos second shot of the period, connected at 1:51, three seconds after another Rebels penalty had expired.
Kai Uchacz scored his 34th of the season to make things interesting at 9:59 when he had the puck hit him in front and dribble under Dyck and just over the goal line. The officials looked at the video before confirming the goal.
From then on, the Rebels dominated.
“We had some Grade A chances on Grade A opportunities, but we’re not putting the puck in. We give them three shots in the second and they score, and they score early in the third,” Walser lamented.
“There’s no denying the effort was there but we’re just not quite there yet, not quite turned around.”
The Rebels get a chance to rest for a couple days before hosting the Moose Jaw Warriors Friday at 7 p.m.
“Getting home is a blessing, but we’re not out of this rut yet. We need to get back on track as a group as teams behind us are catching up. We’ve lost some momentum, and we have to find it again. Get home, have a good skate Thursday and be ready for Friday.
ICE CHIPS – Red Deer goaltender Chase Wutzke finished with 23 saves … Geekie, who was a first-round pick by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2022 NHL Draft, now has nine goals and 10 games with the Broncos. He was the first star with Kettles second and Lind third … The Rebels slipped three points back of the Medicine Hat Tigers in the battle for first place in the Central Division as the Tigers downed Regina 5-2 … The Broncos (25-18-4-2) moved to within five points of the Rebels (27-16-1-6) with a game in hand … Rebels were zero-for-three on the power play while the Broncos were one-for-five … Uchacz has 98 goals with the Rebels, fifth most in team history.