Rebels flat despite outshooting Ice in 4-1 loss
Ice 4 Rebels 1
The final shots on goal — 42-25— would indicate that the Red Deer Rebels were defeated by a hot goalie in Friday’s WHL contest at the Centrium.
Granted, Kootenay Ice netminder Payton Lee was rock-solid while turning aside 41 shots, but the hosts never had much for sustained pressure throughout the contest viewed by 5,104 fans.
“I don’t think we really played that well tonight, to be quite honest,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, following a 4-1 loss.
“We had opportunities but we didn’t bear down. You have two on-ones, four on-ones … mentally we weren’t in synch at all. It’s kind of a reflection of the way we played the last two periods in Edmonton. It just carried over tonight.”
The Rebels boss was referring to Wednesday’s 7-2 loss in the provincial capital, which came just 24 hours after a 3-0 win over the Oil Kings at the Centrium.
Of course, Sutter has seen this roller-coaster act far too often in the last two months.
“Again, it’s been this way since November,” he said. “We’re a below .500 hockey team since November on. Win one, lose one, win one, lose two, win two, lose three . . . it’s been all over the map.”
Kootenay overage forward Matt Alfaro opened the scoring with a power-play goal just two minutes into the contest, beating Rebels goalie Riley Lamb with a shot from the left faceoff circle.
Brandon Hagel pulled the Rebels even 41 seconds into the middle frame, cashing a rebound while falling to the ice.
But that was it for the hosts, who watched Ice defenceman Troy Murray notch the eventual winner at 5:31 of the third period.
Zak Zborosky potted an insurance marker five minutes later and Vince Loschiavo notched an empty-net goal with 40 seconds remaining in the game.
“In the third period tonight our best players were terrible,” said Sutter. “That’s why they sat the last 11 minutes of the (third) period. They didn’t play the way we need them to. Again, it’s not just about offence, it’s about wanting to play the game the right way on both sides of the puck.”
The awful truth regarding the contest was that Red Deer simply wasn’t good enough, never mind the final shot count.
The Rebels, who got a 21-save performance from Lamb, are off until next Friday when the Vancouver Giants visit the Centrium.
“Obviously we have to work on things over this week,” said Sutter. “This isn’t something that’s just hit us, it’s been ongoing here and we need some urgency in the dressing room.
“Until you hate to lose you never learn how to win, and we have a lot of guys inside the room who take losing too easily, too lightly. It’s just ho-hum and come back tomorrow, it’s just another day. If you don’t get upset about losing hockey games at this level then you’re in trouble.
“We take losing too lightly and when we don’t stay with our game and play the right way — which is a hard way to play — we usually end up on the wrong side of it and we’ve ended up in the wrong side of it too much lately.”
° Sutter isn’t opposed to making a joke at Cam Moon’s expense, but deep down — actually not that deep down — he’s extremely appreciative of Moon’s friendship and the job he’s done for the Rebels over the years.
Moon, the team’s radio play-by-play broadcaster and director of media relations, called his 1,500th Rebels game Friday on The Drive. To celebrate the achievement, the club handed out 400 bobbleheads of the long-time employee prior to the contest.
“It’s awesome for Mooner, he’s such a loyal, loyal guy,” said Sutter. “The Red Deer Rebels mean everything to him.
“He’s had opportunities to move on up, to move on in sports and do broadcasting at higher levels. But he lives and breathes Red Deer Rebels and he’s an awesome broadcaster. I know everybody loves listening to him and obviously, with that many games, he’s been doing it for a long time.
“I’m excited for him. It’s great, he’s a great guy.”
Moon joined the Rebels organization in 1998, one year before Sutter purchased the team from Wayne and Terry Simpson.
“He’s certainly been, since Day One when I purchased the team back in ’99 and Mooner was here, someone I’ve grown to lean on for a lot of different things,” said Sutter.
“Like I said, he’s just a true loyal guy and he throws everything into it. He puts in a lot of time and effort and does well at what he does.”
In a feature story in the Red Deer Advocate that ran shortly after Moon called his 1,000 game in October of 2010, he discussed his favourite eateries among the many the Rebels frequented over the years.
He loved a restaurant called Pure Country, which is in the town of Frank, but the team no longer passes that way en route to Cranbrook. In addition, the Coliseum Steak and Pizza was an establishment that catered to the team following games in Edmonton.
“We used to eat there post game when the games were at Rexall Place, but now that the games are downtown (at Rogers Place), the food is catered in at the rink, and it’s amazing,” said Moon.
He has two new favourites since he gave his 2010 reviews — The Mad Greek in Moose Jaw (“unbelievable, highly recommended, it’s really good”) and D’agostino in Kamloops (“really good Italian food, very nice”).