Shorthanded Rebels fall in Saskatoon
Blades 6 Rebels 2
SASKATOON — The shorthanded Red Deer Rebels experienced a serious case of the second-period blues in a WHL contest versus the Saskatoon Blades Saturday.
The Blades struck for a trio of unanswered goals — including two on the power play — en route to a 6-2 win over the visitors before an audience of 4,351 at SaskTel Centre.
“We made a couple of extra mistakes in the second period and the score kind of got away from us,” said Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk, who preferred to highlight the positives considering the team played with just 15 skaters.
“There’s a lot of positives to take out of a day when unique circumstances happened with players being out of the lineup,” he said.
Captain Jayden Grubbe was injured in Friday’s 2-1 loss at Prince Albert and was unavailable Saturday, while fellow forward Dwayne Jean Jr. and defenceman Marek Schneider were also absent.
“One was out with an illness and the other for a personal issue,” said the coach, without going into detail. “We had a short bench but the guys didn’t use that as an excuse. They went out there and played.”
Blades forward Lukas Hansen forced a turnover in the Red Deer zone, cut the net and jammed the puck past netminder Rhett Stoesser to open the scoring 13:20 into the contest.
Rebels newcomer Ryker Singer notched his first of two goals just over three minutes later during a power play when his shot from a sharp angle appeared to bounce off the skate of Blades defenceman Charlie Wright and past netminder Austin Elliot.
But it was downhill for the Rebels after that.
Conner Roulette cashed a rebound to give the Blades a 2-1 lead late in the opening frame after Stoesser couldn’t handle a shot by Trevor Wong, and the hosts piled on in the second.
Vaughn Watterodt scored on the power play early in the period, and Wong connected with a rising shot from the right circle three minutes later.
That spelled the end for Stoesser, who stopped five of the nine shots he faced and was replaced by Chase Wutzke, who is with the team due to an injury to Kyle Kelsey.
“For a guy who had no (junior) experience coming into the season, he’s played well for us for a long stretch,” Konowalchuk said of Stoesser, who had won all eight of his previous starts prior to Friday’s setback at Prince Albert.
“With Kelsey going down he’s had to step up and he certainly has. He had some good chances against him tonight and you’re not always going to be perfect. I know he wanted to play better and we certainly could have helped him too by eliminating some of the quality chances.”
Egor Sidorov, again on the power play, gave the Blades a 5-1 lead late in the middle stanza with a high shot from the right circle.
Wong got credit for Saskatoon’s final tally 5:32 into the third period when a point shot by Aiden De La Gorgendiere glanced off his skate and past Wutzke. It was the Blades’ third power play marker of the night.
The Rebels, who held a 12-3 advantage in shots during the final 20 minutes, got a late goal from Singer during a power play of their own. The former Prince George Cougar, acquired Thursday, chipped home a corner pass from Craig Armstrong, who also assisted on Singer’s first goal.
“We had not a bad third period,” said Konowalchuk.
“To come away from two games empty-handed is a bit frustrating but there are some positives we can take away. It’s certainly nothing to panic over. It’s part of a long season where you don’t always get the bounces and things don’t go your way.”
Two of the bright spots for the Rebels were the play of Wutzke, who stopped 11 of 13 shots, and Singer.
“He’s got a bright future,” Konowalchuk said of the 16-year-old netminder. “I like the way he is mentally. He has that inner confidence and doesn’t get overwhelmed.”
As for Singer, who also got into a second-period scrap . . .
“Even yesterday when the puck got on his stick he looked like he could make something happen with it,” said the Rebels bench boss.
“Brent (GM Sutter) and Shaun (associate GM Sutter) made a real nice acquisition. He’s a competitive kid with offensive ability. He’s a player Rebels fans will enjoy watching over the next few years.”
Notable: The three stars: (1) Wong, (2) Roulette and (3) Elliot, who made 27 saves . . . Red Deer was two-for-seven with a man advantage, the Blades three-for-seven . . . The Rebels host the Moose Jaw Warriors Wednesday at the Peavey Mart Centrium. Red Deer will then entertain the Edmonton Oil Kings two nights later and visit the Lethbridge Hurricanes next Saturday.