Rebels roar back to post first victory of the season
Rebels 4 Warriors 3 (OT)
MOOSE JAW — Brent Sutter was in total agreement with his coaching staff following Friday’s come-from-behind victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors.
“We were talking after the game about how anytime you can come back like that it’s huge for our team, especially early in the year, to build some confidence and some character inside the room,” said the Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach, following his squad’s 4-3 overtime conquest.
The Red Deer victory came out of the blue, considering the Warriors were up 3-1 after two periods while outshooting their guests 31-12 in front of 3,087 fans at Mosaic Place.
“I didn’t think we were very good for two periods, but our goalie was outstanding,” said Sutter, in reference to rookie stopper Riley Lamb, who finished with 33 saves. “He kept us in the game . . . kept it close.”
But the momentum shifted in the final frame, as defenceman Josh Mahura pulled the Rebels to within one with a power-play marker at 5:06 and rookie forward D-Jay Jerome potted his third goal of the season just over seven minutes later.
The Lethbridge product took a feed from newcomer Martin Dawson, who was acquired from the Calgary Hitmen Thursday, and beat Warriors netminder Zach Sawchenko high to the glove side to even the count at 3-3.
“In the third period we got skating, moving pucks and playing with more urgency,” said Sutter. “There was more emotion. We played really well and generated offence, plus our goalie made a couple more big saves to give us a chance to win.”
Evan Polei potted the winner 69 seconds into extra time with a rising shot from close range.
Sutter said the message to his players during the second intermission was straight-forward.
“I told them we just needed to go out and play our game,” said the Rebels boss. “We were standing around for two periods, turning the puck over and trying to make plays while we were standing still.
“I thought we were just really sloppy, then in the third (period) we got back to playing basic hockey and played well.”
The Rebels led 1-0 when Jeff de Wit connected 8:12 into the contest with a volley from the low slot.
Noah Gregor evened the count with 11 seconds remaining in the opening frame, taking a corner pass from Ryan Bowen, skating across the crease and sneaking a backhand past Lamb.
Brett Howden gave the Warriors a 2-1 lead when he connected from a scramble at 4:19 of the second stanza and Jett Woo cashed a rebound to provide the hosts with a two-goal lead at 7:09, setting the stage for Red Deer’s third-period rally.
° Sutter was impressed with 18-year-old forward Martin, picked up from the Hitmen in exchange for a sixth-round WHL bantam draft pick. “He has good offensive instincts and he can skate,” said the Red Deer bench boss. “He just has to work on getting stronger, but I like his intelligence, he’s a smart player. He showed great hockey sense tonight.” . . . The Rebels are just one player — forward Michael Spacek, still with the Winnipeg Jets — short of a full roster of veterans. Sutter expects to hear from the Jets Saturday regarding Spacek’s eventual return . . . The Rebels are in Brandon Saturday to face the Wheat Kings and close out their three-game jaunt with a Sunday afternoon clash with the Regina Pats. Red Deer’s next home game is Wednesday versus the Kamloops Blazers.