Third-period meltdown seals Rebels fate
Wheat Kings 5 Rebels 2
BRANDON — A lack of finish and a shortage of discipline proved costly for the Red Deer Rebels Saturday night.
The Rebels pelted Brandon Wheat Kings netminder Jordan Papirny with 38 shots but were held to a pair of power-play goals in a 5-2 Western Hockey League loss. The visitors also surrendered a pair of extra-man markers, including a five-on-three, third-period tally that gave the Wheat Kings a 3-1 lead.
“We had a lot of scoring chances and didn’t capitalize on them. We just never buried our opportunities,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, following the contest that was viewed by 3,815 fans at Westman Place.
The Rebels trailed 2-1 after 40 minutes and were still very much in contention when Alexander Alexeyev and Grayson Pawlenchuk were tagged with delay of game and slashing infractions 91 seconds apart early in the final frame. Tanner Kaspick promptly cashed in to give the hosts a two-goal cushion.
“It was a 2-1 game when we took some bad penalties,” said Sutter. “We put ourselves down five-on-three, they buried one and all of a sudden it’s a 3-1 game.
“We took some bad penalties in the third that took us out of the game,” added the Rebels boss, also referring to a cross-checking penalty assessed to defenceman Colton Bobyk.
Kaspick provided the Wheat Kings with a three-goal cushion at 7:34 of the final stanza when he broke in alone with his team short-handed and beat Rebels netminder Trevor Martin.
Rebels rookie forward D-Jay Jerome struck for his fourth goal of the season a mere 15 seconds later, busting in alone and beating Papirny with a nifty forehand-backhand move, but Tyler Coulter sealed the deal for Brandon with a late empty-net goal.
Coulter also opened the scoring late in the first period, converting his own rebound while stationed near the edge of the crease.
Pawlenchuk drew the Rebels even in the final minute of the frame with a deflection of a Bobyk point shot, but Nolan Patrick gave the Wheat Kings a lead they wouldn’t relinquish 12 seconds into the middle period, batting a rebound past Martin.
Martin finished with 27 saves and will serve as back-up to Riley Lamb when the Rebels visit the Regina Pats Sunday. The puck drops at 4 p.m.
“It’s a quick turnaround for us. Three games in three days and we’re playing a team that’s sitting and waiting for us,” said Sutter. “But it is what it is. Every team goes through it. We just have to get ready for the game.”
More discipline and some added scoring touch will be required if Red Deer is to close out the three-game trip — which opened with a 4-3 overtime win over the Moose Jaw Warriors Friday — with a positive result.
“We have to play a full 60 minutes,” said Sutter, “and we have to capitalize on opportunities. We’re playing a quicker team tomorrow and hopefully we can find a way to get some points.”
Sutter will also need more production from his older players.
“Our vets aren’t yet at the level we’d like to see them at,” he said. “They have to continue to push to get better.”
• Rebels overage forward Evan Polei, who sniped the winning goal the previous night, sat out Saturday’s contest with an upper-body injury . . . The Winnipeg Jets returned Michael Spacek to the Rebels earlier in the day and the Czech forward created a handful of scoring chances against the Wheat Kings . . . The Rebels will return home following Sunday’s contest and prepare for a Wednesday meeting with the visiting Kamloops Blazers. Red Deer will then host the Medicine Hat Tigers and Kelowna Rockets Friday and Saturday.