Rebels struggle on the power play but post 20th win of the season
Rebels 2 Blazers 1
The Red Deer Rebels experienced a power outage Tuesday night at the Centrium.
But while the Rebels were a mere one-for-nine with a man advantage, they were still able to pull out a 2-1 WHL victory over the Kamloops Blazers before 3,289 fans.
“I thought the power plays took momentum away from the game,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “When you go one-for-nine on it . . . the percentages weren’t great and on some power plays we just didn’t generate anything.
“When you have that many minutes on the power play it affects other things when you’re not generating. But we did some really good things too. We didn’t give them much.”
Blazers netminder Dylan Ferguson did his part in keeping the game close, stopping 41 shots, many of which were of the high-grade variety. The 20-year-old denied Cam Hausinger on a second-period breakaway and made an impressive glove stab on Josh Tarzwell in the third.
“Their goalie made some big saves for them obviously. He’s a good goalie,” said Sutter. “They certainly have some good young players and he’s certainly the backbone of that group.”
The Rebels connected on their second power play of the night when captain Reese Johnson buried a rebound from in tight at 16:27 of the opening period.
The goal came near the end of a five-minute boarding major to Zane Franklin, who was also assessed a game misconduct after running Rebels defenceman Alex Alexeyev into the boards. Alexeyev left the game and was taken to the hospital with an undisclosed injury.
“I know Fergy is a pretty good goalie and we talked about getting traffic and going to the net and that’s what I did,” said Johnson of his 14th goal of the season. “Dougy (Chris Douglas) had a great shot off the pad and I put ‘er in.
“I thought the boys battled hard for the most part. Obviously there are areas we need to clean up and we weren’t happy with, but we’re obviously happy to get the win.”
Alex Morozoff notched the eventual winner late in the middle period when he hauled in a pass from Ryan Gottfried, sped down the left wing and beat Ferguson low to the far corner.
The visitors got back into the contest 7:14 into the third period when Brodi Stuart cashed a two-on-one feed from Kobe Mohr, but the Rebels held tight and posted their 20th win of the season despite facing some last-minute pressure.
“Our whole group is pretty good at dialling in, especially when we need to,” said Johnson. “The last six minutes we really shut it down and didn’t really give them much, which is huge in a game like that.”
“We got the two points,” said Sutter, whose team stretched its Central Division lead to five points over the Edmonton Oil Kings, who were 6-3 losers at Saskatoon.
“Not very game is going to be perfect, not every game is going to be exactly the way you draw it up. But you have to stay with it and stay with it. The guys who played on the power play may not have had one of their better games tonight, but they didn’t get rattled or frustrated, they just stayed with it and fought through it.
“It’s one of those game where you just have to bear down on certain things because some other things aren’t going the right way.”
Ethan Anders was also solid in the Rebels net, but not many of the 32 shots he faced were of the difficult variety. His biggest stop came in the final minute when he denied Martin Lang from close range.
“I didn’t think he had a lot of tough things he had to do tonight. We didn’t give up a lot of high-percentage chances, we kept a lot of stuff to the outside,” said Sutter.
“Yet when he had to make saves he made them, but we didn’t really give up a whole lot.”
Notable: “No idea yet, we haven’t heard,” said Sutter on the status of Alexeyev, who was set to leave on Saturday to join Team Russia for the upcoming world junior championship. “He went to the hospital. We’ll see.” . . . The Blazers were zero-for-three on the power play . . . Selected as the game’s three stars were (1) Johnson, (2) Ferguson and (3) Red Deer rearguard Carson Sass . . . The Rebels conclude the pre-Christmas portion of their schedule on Friday night when the Medicine Hat Tigers visit the Centrium.