Broncos power play comes up big against visiting Rebels
Broncos 5 Rebels 1
SWIFT CURRENT — Even up, the Red Deer Rebels were pretty much the Swift Current Broncos’ equals Sunday afternoon.
But when it boiled down to special teams play . . . not so much.
The Broncos torched their hosts — playing their third game in as many days — for three power-play goals in the first period and four overall en route to a 5-1 Western Hockey League victory before 2,557 customers at the Credit Union iPlex.
“They weren’t good penalties,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said of his club’s trio of first-period infractions, all of which resulted in man-advantage goals by the Broncos.
“Their power play is very good, with older guys on it. They move the puck around pretty well. Five on five, we were fine, but we took some undisciplined penalties and their power play was the difference in the game.”
Aleksi Heponiemi potted a man-advantage marker for the hosts 5:24 into the contest, and after Kristian Reichel evened the count for Red Deer with a power-play tally at 7:55, Broncos forward Matteo Gennaro replied just 26 seconds later.
Gennaro added a power play marker at 15:07 of the opening frame and defenceman Artyom Minulin scored with 1:04 left in the period with Rebels rearguard Alexander Alexeyev serving a cross checking penalty.
After being outshot 17-6 in the first period, the Rebels held a 5-3 edge in shots in a slower-paced and scoreless middle frame.
Minulin closed out the scoring with a fourth Broncos power play goal at 6:11 of the third period, jamming home a loose puck at the edge of the crease.
“Five on five we were fine and yet you score only one goal for the second game in a row,” said Sutter, whose club fell 2-1 in overtime at Prince Albert the night before.
“We have to do a better job of creating more in the offensive zone. It’s also about getting into scoring areas and I thought in the third period today we did a better job of that. We got around the front of the net and battled for pucks.”
The Rebels have made trades and grown increasingly younger in recent weeks, which has also resulted in a lack of scoring finish. The remaining veterans, as a result, may be trying too hard to compensate.
“It’s maybe something to do with our younger guys playing at a different level, shooting against better goalies and playing against better players,” said Sutter.
“They have to work (extra) hard to compete in the tough areas, and some of our older guys are maybe trying to do too much or trying to make the fancy play instead of putting pucks on net.
“We just have to keep working at it. That’s all we can do.”
Notable: Reichel was helped off the ice after being struck with a puck in the third period and didn’t return. Sutter, however, insisted the 19-year-old import is fine and will be ready for Tuesday’s road game versus the Lethbridge Broncos. “He was going to come back into the game but we kept him in the dressing room,” said Sutter . . . Rebels goalie Riley Lamb stopped 13 of the 17 shots he faced in the first period before being replaced by Ethan Anders, who turned aside 13 of 14 the rest of the way. Joel Hofer made 19 saves for the Broncos . . . Following Tuesday’s contest, Red Deer will host Lethbridge and the Saskatoon Blades Friday and Saturday.