Rebels push Blades to the limit in 4-2 road loss
Blades 4 Rebels 2
SASKATOON — There might not be such a thing as a moral victory, but the Red Deer Rebels came close Friday.
Minus two of their top-six forwards in Kale Lind and Carson Latimer due to injury, the Rebels gave the Saskatoon Blades a serious run in a 4-2 WHL loss before 3,758 fans at the SaskTel Centre.
Down 2-1 in the third period, forward Samuel Drancak pulled the Rebels even with his second goal of the game, slipping a cross-crease pass from Talon Brigley by Blades netminder Austin Elliott.
But the Blades replied just under two minutes later when Trevor Wong scored on a breakaway. Then, with 58 seconds remaining, Egor Sidorov completed his hat trick on the night with an empty net goal.
Rebels head coach Derrick Walser liked the way his team stuck with the Blades — the sixth-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League — especially in the second half of the game.
“We just came out a little slow,” said Walser, whose team came out of the first period with a 1-1 tie and trailed 2-1 after 40 minutes.
“Going into the final period down a goal, you’d take it, 100 per cent we would,” he continued. “And we hung around in the third. We found a way to kill a penalty and found a way to get a power play goal.”
But then came the killer . . .
“We made a mental mistake and that was the ball game,” said Walser, in reference to Wong’s breakaway marker.
Sidorov opened the scoring for the home team 7:58 into the contest on a back-door play, ripping a shot past Rebels goalie Rhett Stoesser after taking a backhand feed from Fraser Minten from in tight.
The Rebels pulled even late in the first period when Drancak hauled in a pass from Dwayne Jean Jr., broke over the blueline while stepping by defenceman Tanner Molendyk and rang a shot off the post and behind Elliott.
Sidorov restored the Blades’ lead with a power play goal 6:14 into the second period as his one-timer from the right circle squeaked through Stoesser’s pads.
The visitors had a great chance to respond when Blades forward Easton Armstrong was assessed a boarding double minor with seven minutes later in the middle frame. But the Rebels managed just one shot during the ensuing four minute advantage.
Wallser, not surprisingly, wasn’t impressed by his team’s power play, in particular during the four minute opportunity. Red Deer is 16th in the league in that department.
“We have to dig our heels in. The one group, they have to get on the same page,” said the Rebels bench boss. “As a group, we’ll address it tomorrow, get these guys rolling because they’re all out of synch, becoming more individual. And when you get to that situation it doesn’t work.”
The Rebels close out their four-game Eastern Division trip Saturday against the Prince Albert Raiders.
“That’s hockey, it doesn’t always go your way and we can redeem ourselves moving forward,” said Walser. “It’s a big game tomorrow, you always want to win your last one on any trip.
“The plan is to rest up and recharge and make sure we’re ready to go tomorrow . . . everyone.”
— Red Deer Rebels (@Rebelshockey) December 9, 2023
Notable: The three stars: (1) Sidorov, (2) Wong, and (3) Drancak . . . Both teams were one-for-three on the power play . . . Stoesser made 20 saves, three more than Elliott . . . The Rebels will return home early Sunday to prepare for three games prior to the Christmas break. Red Deer will be in Calgary Wednesday to face the Hitmen and will then host the Swift Current Broncos Thursday and the Regina Pats Saturday.
(Photos by Saskatoon Blades)