Rebels lose fifth straight before heading on US Division road trip

With five weeks left in the regular season and only six home games to play, the Red Deer Rebels need to figure out how to get back into the win column. They embark on a trip through the US division with games beginning on Tuesday night in Spokane. The Moose Jaw Warriors were playing the second of their three-games-in-three-nights, as part of their Central Division road trip.

With Head Coach Brent Sutter preaching fundamentals and special teams over the last three weeks, the Rebels knew they needed to play at their best against a tough Moose Jaw squad.

“Tonight our specialty teams were as good as they’ve been in a long time,” said the Rebels boss. “We generated offence on our power play and our penalty kill was pretty good.

“Again, it’s a battle and we have to find a way to get ourselves out of it, keep our heads to the grindstone and keep going.”

A fairly even first period saw each team taking turns in the penalty box, and some rough stuff between whistles. You would have thought that the teams were division rivals that played frequently, as both sides were dishing out hits and playing intensely.

The Rebels did have the shot advantage in the period but many of their attempts came from the perimeter.

The score remained tied at zero through twenty minutes and it was more than 13 minutes into the second period before anyone put a puck behind one of the netminders.

Before the first goal, both goalies showed how good they were with the glove hand, with both Adam Evanoff and Ethan Anders making five alarm stops on streaking players.

The Warriors opened the scoring on a long lead feed off the boards to a streaking Brayden Tracey. The rookie of the year candidate collected the Tristin Langan pass and was in behind the Rebels defense. Tracey skated in all alone on Anders and made no mistake, tucking the puck through the pads and into the back of the net.

A little over three minutes later the Warriors extended their lead.

On a 4-on-2 rush in the Rebels zone, Drae Gardiner made a quick pass to Keenan Taphorn who then made an equally quick pass to Langan. His wrist shot sailed over the outstretched glove of Anders and just like that the lead was two.

Red Deer continued the pressure for the rest of the period. But Evanoff was equal to the task. There were just 14 Warrior shots to the Rebels 30 but the score remained 2-0 Moose Jaw through 40 minutes.

The Rebels just continued where they left off, pouring shots at Evanoff. Their bad luck continued, with shots hitting the post, the side of the net and Evanoff making some really important saves. Red Deer even saw sticks crater on them as they took shots at the Warrior goal.

Finally after 91 minutes and 32 seconds of not scoring, the Rebels finally found a way to beat Evanoff. Their 46th shot of the night found the back of the net on a one-timed shot from Brett Davis. The Rebels trailed by just one with 41 seconds to play.

On the play, Brandon Hagel became the all-time assists leader for the franchise, passing Arron Asham with number 162. There was a brief announcement made before the teams lined up for the ensuing faceoff.

The Warriors played the puck well in the final 41 seconds, allowing the Rebels pressure just one shot to tie the game but Evanoff turned the puck aside.

Head coach Brent Sutter was pretty happy with his team’s effort. ‘You can’t look at our effort and say it wasn’t great. We had a really good effort here, we played hard”

“We created a lot and did a lot of good things. You outshoot your opposition two-to-one or even more than that (48-21).”

For the first time in recent memory, the bench boss spoke about puck luck and missed opportunity.

“We didn’t play as hard in the previous games we lost over the last two-to-three weeks, but tonight you play hard and don’t get rewarded. It’s just the way the hockey Gods work.” said Sutter.

After the game Brandon Hagel spoke about his assist that put him into the Rebels record books.

“It’s something special. To do it with this jersey on is heart-warming for myself,” said Hagel. “I’ve been here for four years and this organization has treated me nothing but the best. I can’t thank them enough and I’m super excited that I was able to do it here.”

Hagel’s feat came in 23 less games than Arron Asham. Asham went on to play nearly 800 NHL games in a respectable career.

“That’s pretty crazy as well,” said Hagel about Asham’s accomplishments. “He’s an unbelievable player and to pass someone like that, wow, I can’t even say words right now.”

“Tonight our specialty teams were as good as they’ve been in a long time,” said the Rebels boss. “We generated offence on our power play and our penalty kill was pretty good.

“Again, it’s a battle and we have to find a way to get ourselves out of it . . . keep our heads to the grindstone and keep going.”

Rebel Yell… The three stars of the night were Evanoff, Hagel and Langan….Neither team scored on the power play….The Warriors were 0-for-3 while the Rebels were 0-for-4. Evanoff made 47 saves in the win, Anders had 19 stops in the loss…Resse Johnson was 23-of-32 in the faceoff dot, he leads the league for players with over 100 faceoffs at 65.4% (743-of-1136)…Rebels next action is Tuesday night, puck drop is at 7:05 local time in Spokane (8:05 in Red Deer)….Moose Jaw faces off with the Calgary Hitmen on Sunday afternoon.

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