Rebels open February with loss in Brandon
By DANNY RODE
BRANDON, MB – All good things come to an end.
The Red Deer Rebels saw their 13-game WHL point streak snapped Friday as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Brandon Wheat Kings before 3,724 fans at Westoba Place.
It was the first regulation time loss for the Rebels since Dec. 27 and only their second in the last 19 games.
“It someone told me earlier we’d go 13 games in a row with at least a point, 100 percent I’d take it, but there’s a way to go down and there’s a way not to, and this was that way,” said Rebels head coach Derrick Walser.
On paper it appeared as if the Rebels were the superior team, outshooting the Wheat Kings 40-21, but Walser didn’t feel the same way.
“There’s a lot of areas we can clean up,” he said. “We have to play a heavier game. There was not enough compete … we lost way too many 50-50 battles.”
Brandon took advantage of a pair of Red Deer penalties early in the second period to grab a 2-0 lead. Brett Hyland scored his 26th and 27th goals with the man advantage at 2:15 and 4:42 of the period.
Matteo Fabrizi gave the Rebels some hope, with his second goal of the season on a blast from the point at 11:09. But Roger McQueen notched his 20th of the year at 12:21 and that proved to be to much for Red Deer to overcome.
Unlike Wednesday, when the Rebels overcame a two-goal deficit in the third period before losing 4-3 to Prince Albert in a shootout, the Rebels couldn’t beat Brandon netminder Carson Bjarnason in the final frame despite holding an 18-2 edge in shots.
“Their goalie played well, give him credit, but we didn’t exactly play well enough. You have to earn those comebacks. In Prince Albert we did just that, tonight we didn’t earn the comeback, didn’t earn that opportunity. We didn’t play well enough for 60 minutes.
“We have to get that out of our system and be better starting tomorrow,” added Walser.
The Rebels are in the midst of a tough stretch as they face the Moose Jaw Warriors on Saturday, the Regina Pats Sunday afternoon and finish their five-game-in-seven-day road trip Tuesday in Swift Current.
The Rebels special teams were anything but sharp as they were zero-for-three with the man advantage and gave up two goals on four times shorthanded.
“We didn’t play well on the kill, plus they blocked numerous shots while killing penalties and we may have blocked one,” said Walser. “That’s the difference in the game. We have to sacrifice our body.”
The Rebels went into the game in third place in the Eastern Conference with Brandon in sixth, 10 points back.
“But there are no easy teams in this conference,” Walser was quick to point out. “That’s a good team and we have to respect everyone.”
Matteo Michels put the game away with an empty net marker at 18:47 of the third period on just the second Wheat Kings shot on goal of the final 20 minutes.
Red Deer and Moose Jaw are now tied for third in the WHL Eastern Conference, each with 60 points through 47 games, heading into Saturday’s game at the Moose Jaw Events Centre (6 p.m. MT on 106.7 REWIND Radio and CHL TV). The two teams are 1-1 so far in in the season series with the away team winning the previous two. They’ll play again next Friday, Feb. 9 at the Peavey Mart Centrium.
— Red Deer Rebels (@Rebelshockey) February 3, 2024
ICE CHIPS – Hyland, who had two goals and an assist, was the first star, Bjarnason, who was making his first start since, Jan. 12, was second and McQueen, with a goal and one helper, third star … Chase Wutzke, who was named WHL Goaltender of the Month for December and January, suffered his first regulation time loss since. Nov. 7 at Victoria and only his third of the season … Kalan Lind saw his personal best eight-game point streak come to an end … Red Deer and Brandon end up splitting their regular season series 2-2 with the home team victorious in each game … Rebels are still two points back of Medicine Hat in the battle for top spot in the Central Division with a game in hand … The Hat lost 5-2 to Saskatoon Friday.