Uchacz hat trick not enough, Rebels take shootout loss in Regina
By DANNY RODE
REGINA, SK – For the most part this season defence and goaltending have been the strengths of the Red Deer Rebels.
That is until the last couple of games.
For the second day in a row the Rebels allowed six goals in regulation time, this time dropping a 7-6 shootout decision to the Regina Pats before 3,582 fans at the Brandt Centre Sunday afternoon.
On Saturday they lost 6-3 to the Moose Jaw Warriors.
The Rebels were playing their third game in less than 48 hours Sunday and fourth game in five days. But it was of little difference to head coach Derrick Walser.
“Every team goes through these stretches and we have to push through it … learn to play smart and we didn’t play smart.
“We gave up some easy goals .. we had lapses where we didn’t manage the puck well enough. We have to be stronger on the puck and get it out of our zone. We didn’t do a good enough job and it came back to bite us.”
It was the third period that most disappointed Walser as the Rebels, behind captain Kai Uchacz grabbed a 5-3 lead in the third.
Uchacz scored just 16 seconds into the final frame, converting a short pass from Jhett Larson through the five hole on Pats rookie netminder Ewan Huet.
Then at 5:37 Uchacz had Larson’s pass go in off his right skate while battling for position in front.
In most cases this season that would have been enough.
However, Tye Spencer notched his second power play goal of the game at 11:12. Zach Moore the scored a lucky goal at 14:01 when he went to clear the puck out from behind the Red Deer net only to have it deflect off a Red Deer stick up over the net and go in off goaltender Rhett Stoesser’s back.
It was an unfortunate break, but one that had Walser shaking his head.
“We should have been stronger on the puck … again it was a gift.”
Sam Oremba put the Pats ahead at 16:08 converting a rebound off the post.
“We give them three goals in a period, that was the difference in the game,” said Walser. “We can’t be doing that and can’t be taking stupid penalties.”
Despite obvious tired legs the Rebels and Uchacz didn’t give up and the captain scored his hat trick goal, and 33rd of the season, at 18:23 slamming home a Hunter Mayo rebound.
“Our offence was good, but again we can’t be giving up that many goals,” added Walser.
Uchacz had the best opportunity to score in the five-minute extra period, slamming a shot off the post past Huet.
Red Deer failed on shootout attempts by Larson and Uchacz. Braxton Whitehead and Tanner Howe each scored to earn Regina the second point.
The first period of the game was almost as wild as the third. Spencer scored on the man advantage at 3:04 with Frantisek Formanek collecting his 13th of the season for the Rebels at 11:13 and Mats Lindgren scoring his seventh at 13:54. just as a Rebels power play ended.
But Zachary Shantz scored a shorthanded marker at 18:20 to even the game. The goal came as part of a five-minute shorthanded situation following a kneeing penalty to Anthony Wilson at 16:33.
Red Deer managed to take advantage of that penalty to start the second period as Kalan Lind scored his 10th of the season at 1:13.
Howe pulled the Pats back even at 5:42 grabbing a loose puck in front of Stoesser after the puck deflected off a Red Deer stick..
The loss was the fourth in a row for the Rebels and second in a shootout as they dropped the opener of the five-game road trip 4-3 in Prince Albert Wednesday. They also lost 4-1 in Brandon Friday and finish the road trip Tuesday in Swift Current.
The Rebels left for Swift Current following Sunday’s game and will have a day to rest.
“We’ll rest for sure but also watch some video and try to get back on track … take care of things,” said Walser.
ICE CHIPS – Rebels return home Friday against the Moose Jaw Warriors for 80s/NIckelodeon Night … The single point moved Red Deer (27-15-1-6) to within one point of the Medicine Hat Tigers (29-16-3-1) for top spot in the Central Division … The Rebels have a 3-6 record in shootouts with Regina now 3-2 … It was the fourth time the teams met this season with three of them ending with a shootout … Red Deer finishes 2-0-0-2 versus Regina this season … Spencer, who had two goals and an assist, was the first star with Ty Gibson, who had three helpers, second star and Uchacz third … Larson had four assists for the Rebels while Formanek had a goal and an assist and was plus-four … Huet, a native of Switzerland, finished with 23 saves while Stoesser made 16 … Regina was two-for-six on the power play and Red Deer one-for-five … Uchacz now has 100 career WHL goals, 97 of which have come with the Rebels – tying him for fifth on the team’s all time list with former teammate Ben King.
Photo: Keith Hershmiller Photography