Hitmen strike for two early third-period goals to sink Rebels
Hitmen 5 Rebels 2
CALGARY — The Red Deer Rebels, despite committing a few costly errors, were still within striking distance of the host Calgary Hitmen entering the third period Sunday.
But it all fell apart for the visitors in the first 69 seconds of the final frame and led to a 5-2 Western Hockey League loss in front of 7,072 fans at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“For two periods we actually played pretty well,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter.
Indeed, the Rebels outplayed the Hitmen in a scoreless first period before giving up back to back markers in the second. Defenceman Dakota Krebs beat netminder Byron Fancy to the stick side with a blast from the top of the right circle at 1:02, and Riley Stotts was allowed to skate off the right boards and into the low slot at 4:37.
The Rebels got one back shortly after when Zak Smith beat Hitmen stopper Brayden Peters from a sharp angle, but Riley Fiddler-Schultz restored Calgary’s two-goal cushion 38 seconds later, scoring into basically an open net when Fancy misplayed the puck.
“We started turning pucks over on their first two goals but got back to playing,” said Sutter. “We make it 2-1 and then they get a bad third one on you.
“But we stayed with it the rest of the period and had some pretty good looks on a power play.”
From there, however, Orca Weisblatt scored on a wrap-around just 35 seconds into the third period and — after Fancy was replaced by Ethan Anders — Josh Prokop connected from tight quarters at 1:09.
“They got the bad fourth one and kind of took the wind out of our sails,” said Sutter. “Then they scored on Andy’s first shot when we missed our coverage.”
Anders made one save in just under two minutes before Sutter put Fancy back into the game.
“I took him (Fancy) out just to settle him down,” said the Rebels boss. “He played pretty well when he went back in. But just those two goals . . . for whatever reason he made some bad decisions.”
Fancy made 24 saves while Peters turned aside 23 shots. Both clubs were zero-for-two on the power play.
The Rebels are back at the Centrium for two games this week — Wednesday versus the Brandon Wheat Kings and Friday against the Winnipeg Ice and former Red Deer captain Dawson Barteaux.
The Rebels will return to Calgary next Saturday to face the Hitmen.