In a battle of teams headed in different directions, the Portland Winterhawks made their bi-annual trip to the Enmax Centrium where the 4681 fans in attendance witnessed a physical affair. The Red Deer Rebels would play host and try to turn around a season that has been in a tailspin since October, 29th. The Rebels have won just once since that date and are now 9-15-1-0 following tonight’s loss. The Rebels went through a similar spell at the same time last year when they won just three times between October 28th and November 23rd.
The first period would go well for both teams as they would exchange chances.
Detroit Red Wings prospect Lane Zablocki would ring an early shot off the post.
The Portland Winterhawks would take the first penalty in a game filled with them. It would lead to a couple of Rebels chances but they were unable to capitalize. Riley Lamb would come up huge stopping a shorthanded breakaway by Winnipeg Jets 2017 draft pick Skyler McKenzie with just five seconds left on the power play.
Shorthanded for a second time, the Winterhawks would get another breakaway when Jacob Herauf bobbled the puck at the blueline. Cody Glass took the puck up ice all alone and beat Lamb. 1-0 Winterhawks. Mason McCarty would cross-check Glass in anger and be sent off to serve two minutes.
Red Deer would take the body to the Winterhawks early as Brandon Shuldhaus and Lukas MacKenzie laid heavy hits on the Portland moving targets.
The Rebels would tie it up on the power play on a rocket of a shot from Kristian Reichel. He pump faked a couple times before just hammering a shot past Portland starting netminder Shane Farkas. The Rebels would get their first PP goal since Nov 4th. A streak that would see them go 0-for-22 before this goal. The Rebels would finish the night 1-for-9 on the power play. Lane Zablocki and Grayson Pawlenchuk drew the assists.
The first period ended with Jake Gricius taking a roughing penalty, shots 20-14 Red Deer through 20 minutes, score tied 1-1.
A penalty shot for the Rebels just 3:18 into the second period as Brendan de Jong slashed Lukas MacKenzie while on a partial breakaway. Mackenzie would go wide to the glove side of Farkas, as he cut in he lost the handle of the puck and it just slides into the goalies pads for the save.
With 14:18 to go in the second period the ref gave Riley Lamb a warning to play the puck in situations where he has an opportunity to move it. Potential delay of game call to come should he freeze it again when asked to move it, the refs have been clamping down on this more this season.
Moments later Mason McCarty stole the puck and headed in two-on-one after a nifty move past a Winterhawks defender, and went bar down on Farkas to give the Rebels their first lead on their 24th shot of the night.
Just 15 seconds later, the Winterhawks rush down the ice and it was McKenzie shoveling the puck to the net and a streaking Cody Glass tipping the gift past Lamb for his second on the night to tie the game at two. The goal was Glass’ 14th of the season.
On another play where the Winterhawks players crashed the net, Mason Mannek put the puck on the stick of Joachim Blichfeld and he beat Lamb with a tip in. On that goal, the Winterhawks retook the lead 3-2. This would prove to be the game winning goal but the Winterhawks were not done there.
Ty Kolle appeared to take a stick to the mouth around the Rebels crease area. He beaked at the ref all the way to the bench and then got two for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“Turnovers got to us a bit. We turned the puck over and they were coming at us,” said associate coach Jeff Truitt. “We just made some foolish mistakes with the puck and we started chasing things. It just seemed to multiply from there.”
With 53.4 seconds to go in the period and Blichfeld scored his second of the night, on the power play, going high glove side on Lamb from on top of the circle to his right. 4-2 Winterhawks. Henri Jokiharju and Glass get the assists.
Shots 31-30 Portland after 40 minutes, they would take a 4-2 lead heading into the 3rd period.
2:27 into the third period, Keifer Bellows danced around three Rebels defenders, and put a shot towards the net. It bounced to a waiting John Ludwig. He had an empty net to shoot at as no one else knew where the puck was. It was Ludvig’s first career WHL goal. 5-2 Winterhawks.
Moments later, it looked as though the Rebels had life as Brandon Schuldhaus picked up a puck in the offensive end and wired it top shelf, over the glove of Farkas. The referees needed to review the shot after the call on the ice was a goal. It would be ruled no goal by the video review judge.
A rash of penalties saw the Winterhawks with a 4-on-3 power play midway through the 3rd period. This would then become a 5-on-3 and Mason McCarty would take a 10 minute misconduct penalty.
Joachim Blichfeld finished the hat-trick with 9:21 to go in the 3rd to put the Winterhawks up 6-2. The three goals on the night would move Blichfeld to nine on the season. That would be all she wrote for the Rebels as they would lose for the tenth time in the last eleven games.
Rebel Yell… the three stars on the night would be a sweep for the Winterhawks 1) Blichfeld 2) Glass 3) Farkas. Farkas would finish with 38 saves on the night. Red Deer starter Lamb made 34 saves. Keiffer Bellows led all players with 10 shots on net, Brandon Hagel had seven for the Rebels. Reese Johnson would win 7-of-12 faceoffs for the Rebels and Keoni Texiera would go 2-for-2 as the top Winterhawk. He would also play in his 300th WHL game tonight. The Winterhawks went 2-for-9 on the power play. Conor MacEachern returned to the lineup after missing the last two games. The Rebels held a meeting right after tonight’s game. The assembled media waited and spoke with associate coach Jeff Truit post-game instead of head coach Brent Sutter. Portland heads to Edmonton to take on the Oil Kings tomorrow at 7:00 PM while the Rebels will head down to Calgary to take on the Hitmen at the Saddledome at 1:30PM. The game will be broadcast nationally on Sportsnet, you can also catch Cam Moon on the Drive @ 106.7fm in Red Deer.