Rebels Get Ready For Game 7
It’s down to one game for all the marbles — a berth in the WHL Eastern Conference final versus the Brandon Wheat Kings, to be precise.
The Red Deer Rebels turned in a dismal performance — their worst of the 2016 playoffs — Sunday in Regina, where they fell 5-1 to the host Pats in Game 6 of a best-of-seven conference semifinal.
Upon arrival at the Centrium — the site of Tuesday’s Game 7 — Monday afternoon, the Red Deer players didn’t have to be reminded of how listless they were for lengthy stretches the day before.
A combination of the Pats’ tenacity and their determination to survive and the Rebels’ inability to mount much of an attack — or much of a defence, for that matter —made for a long night for the visitors.
But that was then and this is now, and the Rebels are insistent that they’ve already turned the page.
“They were desperate, their will to win was higher than ours. They did everything better than we did but we have to move past it,” said captain Luke Philp.
“That was a poor effort by us last night, we all know it. We just have to start focusing on this game now.”
The Rebels were dominant while rolling over the Pats 5-1 in Game 5 Friday at the Centrium and a similar output will be required in the winner-take-all outing.
“Our will to win has to be higher than theirs,” said Philp. “At this time of the year, in a Game 7, anything can happen. We know we have to be ready and have a way better effort than we did last night.”
The Rebels’ on-ice leader was adamant that the players still harbour a healthy measure of self assurance.
“We can’t dwell on that (Sunday’s) game anymore. We still have confidence going into Game 7, for sure,” he said.
Teammate and veteran defenceman Haydn Fleury was in full agreement.
“We’re confident, especially on home ice,” he said. “We’re really comfortable here in front of our fans.
“They’ve been great the whole playoffs, being nice and loud and getting into the games. It’s been awesome, so yeah, we’re really confident.”
Fleury expected the team would be watching a bit of a horror movie — as in video of Sunday’s game — prior to practising Monday.
“We’ll look over some stuff from last night, but we don’t want to look at too much of that,” he stated. “We didn’t play very good at all, so we have to refocus and get ready for Game 7 on home ice.
“Having the game on home ice is a huge advantage. We’ve used home ice to our advantage all playoffs.”
A seventh and deciding game of a post-season series is something very few of the players on either team have experienced.
“We’ll lean on our coaches a bit more,” said Fleury. “They’ve been in those kinds of situations a lot so they know what to expect. They’ll have advice for us. We just have to take that to heart and at the end of the day it’s just another hockey game.
“We have to go out there and play our game. We can’t be too nervous, we can’t be too excited. We just have to go out there and play.”