Rebels fail to follow blueprint in loss to Hitmen
Hitmen 5 Rebels 2
The Red Deer Rebels lost the fine print battle Saturday night at the Centrium.
“Details. I didn’t like our game at all tonight,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, following a 5-2 WHL loss to the Calgary Hitmen in front of 5,619 fans.
“I thought our details weren’t very good. Our positional play, our play with the puck . . . when we had it we didn’t have four other guys working for the guy who had it.
“We did a lot of looping tonight, not a lot of stopping and starting.”
The Hitmen got an early first-period goal from captain Mark Kastelic, who redirected a point shot by Jett Woo, then added to their lead with a five-on-three marker at 7:56 of the second period.
Chris Douglas was called for boarding and Arshdeep Bains was assessed a hooking infraction just 30 seconds later.
The Hitmen cashed in with the two-man advantage when Woo fed Riley Stotts down low and the veteran forward fired a shot over outstretched netminder Ethan Anders.
“You’re still in the game, it’s 1-0 and you take a bad penalty that puts you down five-on-three for a minute and a half, and they capitalize on it,” said Sutter.
Kastelic potted his second of the evening with just over a minute left in the period, converting a rebound from in tight.
“Look at the goals they got, it’s details in the game that we work on every day in practice,” said Sutter. “We just weren’t sharp and we got buried because of it.
“Our turnover ratio in the last two minutes of the second period . . . we had five turnovers in one and a half shifts and they eventually scored on one. The turnovers were from our hash marks to the redline which are bad areas to turn pucks over.”
The Hitmen added a fourth goal at 5:47 of the final frame when Stotts hit Josh Prokop with a rink-wide pass and the soon-to-be 20-year-old cut wide on Anders and scored his 11th of the season.
The Rebels — to their credit — battled back with a pair of goals to make matters at least somewhat interesting.
Ben King, at the top of the left circle, ruined Brayden Peters’ shutout bid with a high shot to the glove side directly off a faceoff at 7:08, giving him nine goals on the season.
Rookie Jace Isley notched his second of the season with 3:48 remaining. Dallon Melin, from the corner, passed out front and Isley slipped the puck under Peters to cut the deficit to two.
But with Anders on the bench in favour of an extra attacker, Stotts scored into an empty net with two minutes left.
“It wasn’t a great game by us,” said Sutter. “Full marks to them (Hitmen), they played well enough to win and we didn’t play well enough to give ourselves a chance to win.”
The Hitmen were one-for-three on the power play while the Rebels fired blanks during their four man-advantage opportunities.
“Their (Calgary’s) penalty killing was good, but like I told the kids after the game, the players on the power play . . . none of them were very good tonight,” said Sutter. “And five-on-five they weren’t good.
“Maybe I have to do something different there as a coach. Maybe I have to coach that differently and put other guys on the power play. When those top guys aren’t playing well enough five on five, they shouldn’t be rewarded.”
Sutter wasn’t overly thrilled with his club’s practice habits during the week — and particularly on Friday — after having not played since the previous Saturday.
“When you get a break like that you have to get engaged early your first game back and I just didn’t think we did that and it hurt us all night,” said the Rebels boss.
“We have to be better tomorrow.”
The clubs meet again Sunday at 2 p.m. in Calgary.
Notable: Peters finished with 21 saves while Anders stopped 25 shots . . . It was a milestone night for Rebels forward Cam Hausinger, who assisted on King’s goal while playing his 300th WHL game . . . Selected as the game’s three stars were (1) Kastelic, (2) King and (3) Stotts.