Tonight, another solid effort was put in by the Red Deer Rebels. Unfortunately, the result was not as hoped. More than 4,200 fans went home unhappy following a less-than-thrilling game between the Rebels and the visiting Prince George Cougars.
“You have a zero chance to score a goal if you don’t hit the net”, was a common theme uttered by Head Coach Brent Sutter following the 4-1 Rebels loss Saturday night at the Enmax Centrium.
Entering the contest, Prince George came in sporting a 3-5-2-1 record, having just lost the previous night in a shootout. Red Deer was coming off a great effort in a 4-2 victory over the Calgary Hitmen Friday night.
The Rebels got off to a good start when leading scorer Mason McCarty would deke his way into the offensive zone, going around a Prince George defender, putting the puck past Tavin Grant while falling to the ice 3:04 into the opening period.
The Cougars would tie it up at 13:31 of the first when Josh Maser worked hard to get to the net. Ryan Schoettler shovelled a pass his way for the easy tap in.
Red Deer wouldn’t go without chances to take the lead back, but the team was just not able to connect on passes or hit the net, as the period ended tied at one. The Rebels outshot the Cougars 13-9 in the period.
Another slow second period would see the teams exchange chances, but neither connected on anything.
A little excitement occurred when Red Deer’s Kristian Reichel and Prince George’s Kody McDonald would mix it up a little scrap with each other. The referees stopped the two from escalating it into a fight and send both off for roughing. The teams locked into four-on-four play, when Prince George capitalized with the open ice.
A turnover in the Red Deer end created some chaos in front of Ethan Anders. Jared Bethune was the recipient of the turnover and he was able to get the puck to NHL draft eligible Jackson Leppard for his fifth goal of the season.
Prince George added to their lead before the end of the period. With 1:40 to go in the second, the Rebels were caught making a slow line change. Cole Moberg and Kody McDonald got the puck up ice quickly, catching the Rebels off guard. Aaron Boyd was off to put the puck behind Anders. The frame closed with with the Cougars up 3-1, despite trailing 25-24 in shots.
The team could not have been pleased with the way things were going; there were a lot of chances for both teams but Red Deer could not seem to bury their opportunities while Prince George was finding some success. Sutter spoke about his team’s opportunities following the game; “The were just some fundamentals that cost us tonight and some turnovers and some stuff in the neutral zone, we just weren’t tight in certain areas and our gap control wasn’t good at certain times. You know we had some chances that we couldn’t capitalize on we need to stay with our game.”
The third period saw the Cougars get on the board right away. Brogan O’Brien found the back of the net quickly and establish a three-goal lead for the visitors. Another Rebels turnover saw the Aaron Boyd scoop the puck and send it to O’Brien.
A well disciplined game was played by both teams while managing to stay physical and work hard in the corners and a long the boards. The final 19-plus minutes would see a lot of action from the third and fourth lines as the time dwindled down to the final buzzer. Final shots would be 35 a side.
Rebel Yell… Red Deer would go 0-for-1 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill. Brandon Hagel led both teams with 7 shots on net, Aaron Boyd led the Cougars with 6. Red Deer’s next action is on Tuesday night when the Medicine Hat Tigers visit the Centrium at 7PM. Prince George will continue their road trip with a game in Calgary tomorrow at 4PM at the Scotiabank Saddledome.