Rebels in control throughout while blanking Oil Kings
Rebels 3 Oil Kings 0
The Red Deer Rebels busted out the gate Tuesday night with a hustle and flow attack that’s uncommon for a club coming off a nine-day Christmas break.
They maintained that pace throughout the evening and skated off with a 3-0 WHL victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings before 5,392 fans at the Centrium.
“Our team game was really good. We were intelligent with the puck, we never gave up many odd-man rushes and we were good along the boards,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter.
“We spent time in the offensive zone and took pride in playing a game the way you need to on the other side of the puck, and that’s defending the right way.
“It was probably one of the more solid games we’ve had in a while.”
The clubs combined for 32 shots — including 19 by Red Deer — in a scoreless opening period, but the Rebels grabbed control of the contest with a pair of second-period, short-handed goals a mere 12 seconds apart.
With Carson Sass serving an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty tacked on following a scrap with Tyson Gruninger, Evan Polei converted a nifty two-on-one pass from Jeff de Wit at 11:45.
The Rebels then moved the play back into the Oil Kings zone and Brandon Hagel spotted a wide-open Campese with a corner pass. The 19-year-old, brought in from the BCHL West Kelowna Warriors Dec. 1, promptly notched his first goal with his new club.
In additions to the two shorties, the Rebels erased six Edmonton power plays.
“Our penalty kill was really good today. We weren’t cheating for offence, it just came to us. That’s how it happened,” said Hagel, who later put the game on ice with a third-period breakaway goal.
The Rebels were zero-for-seven on the power play despite creating a multitude of scoring chances.
“We moved pucks around. We had lots of shots, which we’d talked about — creating more off the shot,” said Sutter. “We did a good job (with a man advantage).
“Our penalty kill was good too. It was a really, really solid game by the kids. They played hard.”
Netminder Patrick Dea was the Oil Kings’ best player, keeping his club in the game while turning aside 39 shots.
Rebels goaltender Riley Lamb wasn’t as busy as his counterpart, but was rock-solid while making 28 saves for his third shutout of the season.
“It feels good, obviously, getting a win,” said Lamb. “The guys played well in front of me tonight.
“I think I did a good job of seeing everything and the (shots) I didn’t got blocked or turned aside by our D-men.”
Hagel echoed Sutter’s comments regarding the Rebels’ ability to play a complete team game.
“Everyone was playing their role and that’s what we need to do to win games. We were successful here tonight,” said the second-year forward, who took a stretch pass from Josh Mahura, broke in alone and beat Dea late in the final frame.
“Obviously both teams just got off the break so everyone was hurting a little, but we were really good. We started off the second half (of the season) really well.”
Added Lamb: “It’s always important to get the win in the first game back from a break. We were on a bit of a slide (prior to Christmas) so the win means a lot. Hopefully we can keep going tomorrow night.”
The rookie stopper, who made back-to-back big-time stops on Trey Fix-Wolansky and Davis Koch in the first period, was referring to a rematch Wednesday in Edmonton.
“I expect our team to come out the same way and play hard,” he said. “I don’t know if all the bounces will go our way tomorrow but I think we have a good enough team to beat them again. Hopefully that happens.”
Sutter will be watching for the Rebels to build off Tuesday’s performance and show a healthy measure of intensity through the remainder of the season.
“We’re in the second half of the season now and everyone is even . . . there’s no such thing as rookies anymore,” said the Rebels boss. “Now it’s just a matter of stepping up.
“The second of the season gets harder and we have to make sure we have our foot on the pedal and play the right way . . . pay attention to what we have to pay attention to, and that’s doing things the right way every day, whether it’s a game or practice.
“I thought the kids were prepared here tonight. They were ready to play.”