Rebels in good shape heading into Game 3 of post-season series with ‘Canes
The Red Deer Rebels felt like they wasted a grand opportunity Sunday while dropping a 5-2 WHL playoff decision to the host Lethbridge Hurricanes.
After taking the first game of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final series 4-2 over the ‘Canes Saturday night, the Rebels couldn’t pull off a second straight upset and take total control of the series.
However, they now have home-ice advantage as the post-season series resumes with Games 3 and 4 Wednesday and Thursday at the Centrium.
“Going there (Lethbridge) and getting a split obviously isn’t terrible,” Rebels overage forward Austin Glover said Monday. “It would have been nice to get two (wins), but coming back even isn’t the worst thing in the world.
“Now we have to regain our focus and get ready for these next two.”
The Rebels were slow out of the gate in each of the first two contests, but were able to shrug off a two-goal deficit Saturday. As for Sunday, the visitors didn’t display much in the way of the intensity needed to win on enemy ice.
“Both our first periods were pretty slow, we didn’t come out very strong,” said Glover. “On Saturday we rallied back and completely changed the momentum and that kind of changed the game.
“On Sunday, we were just kind of flat the whole game. We didn’t bring a lot. But like I said, we have to regain our focus and bring a full 60 minutes for the next two.”
In order to repeat Saturday’s success, Glover noted, the Rebels have to stick to their game plan against the explosive Hurricanes.
“They’re an offensive team and they have a good goaltender (Stuart Skinner),” said Glover. “We don’t want to get into a scoring match with them, kind of a track-meet type game. We need to play the game that we’re structured to play. If we play our system we should be fine.”
The Rebels regularly played with fire during Games 1 and 2 but were bailed out by their penalty killers. The ‘Canes, with the league’s sixth-best power play during the regular season, are zero-for-12 with the man advantage through the first 120 minutes of the series.
However, getting into the habit of playing Russian roulette against a team deep in offensive talent is not — in the long term, at least — the greatest of strategies.
“Our penalty kill has been really good and they have a very good power play, so that’s something we’re doing right,” said Glover.
“But taking too many penalties slows the game down and you’re just putting yourself at risk. We definitely have to put more focus on that and stay out of the box.
Notable: The fifth game of the series will be played Saturday at Lethbridge. Sixth and seventh contests, if needed, will go Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Centrium and Tuesday, April 4 in Lethbridge . . . Glover, who scored 22 times during the regular season — split between the Rebels and Prince Albert Raiders —is one of 14 Red Deer skaters who have yet to record a point in the series. Teammate Michael Spacek leads both clubs with two goals and four points, while Evan Polei and Lane Zablocki have each scored once and added two assists . . . The multi-point Lethbridge players are Egor Babenko, who fired three goals Sunday, Jordy Bellerive with three helpers and Tanner Nagel (1-1), Red Deer product Ryan Vandervlis (1-1) and Alec Baer (0-2) with two points apiece.