The Red Deer Rebels faced a tough loss against the Lethbridge Hurricanes this past Saturday night at the Enmax Centrium with a final score of 3-2 for the Hurricanes.
The game ended in the fifth round of a shoot out after Hurricane Kord Pankewicz scored the game-winning goal.
Rebels right wing Reese Johnson scored the team’s first goal of the night early in the first period to bag his first career WHL goal thanks to an assist from Rebel’s left wing Grayson Pawlenchuk. The goal saw Johnson fight off a check to score off of Rebels’ centre Adam Musil’s first shot attempt on goal.
Johnson was only recently added to the Rebel’s roster in late February after his ‘AAA’ midget team, the Saskatoon Blazers failed to qualify for the playoffs.
Rebel’s GM/Head Coach Brent Sutter was thrilled by the 16-year-old’s performance stating in an after game press conference that Johnson has been one of the team’s best forwards in the last two games.
Although Sutter was happy with the Johnson’s first goal of the night, it wasn’t long before the Hurricanes tied the game only four minutes later after Hurricane’s centre Mike Winther landed a point against Rebels’ goaltender Rylan Toth.
Sutter stated overall he didn’t think the Rebels played to the best of their ability in the first period.
“I have no problem with mistakes – but they need to be honest mistakes,” said Sutter. “And tonight in the first period we had an abundance of dishonest mistakes, and we can’t play that way.
“We ended up having to sit half of our team in the first period because they weren’t chasing the game and being actively involved.”
The second period saw Musil land a power play goal against Hurricanes’ goalie Jayden Sittler with an assist from Rebels’ left wing Scott Feser, however Rebels’ defense was unable to shut down Hurricanes’ centre Tyler Wong after he nabbed the puck from Musil to score his 23rd goal of the year to tie the game at 2-2.
Despite ample scoring opportunities in the third period neither team was able to pull out a third period goal, which sent the game into overtime.
With neither team scoring in overtime it the left the Rebels in the hands of a shoot out where the Rebels were edged in the fifth round.
“We usually don’t have a lot of success in shoot outs,” explained Sutter. “And if you go back and look at many of the games that ended in shoot outs we didn’t play a full game before it – the hockey gods won’t just give you that extra point and it’s like that the majority of the time.”
Sutter added he would’ve liked to have seen the Rebels play the game with more urgency and drive, stating he didn’t think many of the 20-year-olds on the team played to the best of their ability.
“I don’t think the players should be happy about getting three out of four points this weekend,” said Sutter who was referring to the Rebels 5-3 win against Prince Albert the night before. “We start playoffs in a month now and we need to get a lot more from some of our guys but they have to be willing to throw themselves into it.”
With only 10 regular season games left for the Rebels, Sutter explained he hopes the team’s leaders will step forward to pull the team together.
“At some point in time your leadership group inside the dressing room has to take that and do it because it can’t always come from the coaching staff,” said Sutter. “It needs to come from within the group and there are a few guys trying at it but it’s not consistent.”
The Rebels will return to home ice on March 7th where they will face off against the Regina Pats at 7 p.m.