Rebels fall just short in final pre-season contest
Hurricanes 4 Rebels 3 (OT)
LETHBRIDGE — The Red Deer Rebels closed out their WHL Pre-season slate on a negative note Saturday, at least in regard to the final score.
But the Rebels could take solace in the fact they stretched the Lethbridge Hurricanes to the limit while possibly deserving a better fate.
Miguel Marques scored his second goal of the evening 59 seconds into overtime to lift the ‘Canes over the Rebels 4-3 at the Enmax Centre.
The Rebels outshot their hosts 29-25, including 21-12 over the final 40 minutes of regulation time.
But the Hurricanes had the only scoring chance in overtime and made it count.
The Rebels opened the scoring a mere 1:52 into the contest as rookie Evan Smith notched his first of the pre-season, putting home a rebound from a great rush by Kai Uchacz.
“I thought we had an unbelievable start to the game,” said Rebels head coach Derrick Walser, who felt his team carried more than its share of the play from start to finish.
Lethbridge pulled even late in the opening period when Kooper Gizowski beat Rebels netminder Kyle Kelsey, and moved in front early in the second period on a power play goal off the stick of Trae Wilkie.
Wilkie scored two minutes into a five-minute charging penalty to Rebels first-year forward Levi Green, who was also assessed a game misconduct.
Red Deer defenceman Elias Carmichael potted an unassisted goal to make it a 2-2 contest midway through the period, but Marques replied for the ‘Canes shortly after.
Rebels first-year forward Zane Saab scored at 15:48 of the third period to force extra time. The Edmonton native tipped home a point shot from Nick Andrusiak.
Red Deer’s penalty killers came through big time earlier in the third period, erasing minors to veterans Craig Armstrong and Dwayne Jean Jr. to stay within a goal.
“Again, we were taking penalties and some of the players you were hoping to be the difference makers ran out of gas with it being the second of back-to-back games,” said Walser, whose club downed the Calgary Hitmen 3-2 Friday at the Peavey Mart Centrium.
“Both teams looked tired, like they were just trying to get through the week.”
For the second game in succession, the Rebels failed to click with a man advantage, going zero-for-four. The Hurricanes were one-for-four.
“Our power play isn’t scoring so we have to find a way,” said Walser. “If we get our power play going both last night and today we win both games.”
The Rebels, who finished 2-2 in exhibition play, open the regular season next Friday at home against the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Until then . . .
“It’s a work week coming up,” said Walser. “Starting Monday we’ll be back at it working on details.”
Kelsey finished with 21 saves, while at the other end Koen Cleaver stopped 10 of 12 shots and Brady Smith blocked 16 of the 17 shots he faced.