It was a tough weekend for the Red Deer Rebels.
The Rebels, who currently sit in second place in the WHL’s East Central Division, dropped both of their games last weekend, including a 4-1 decision to the Calgary Hitmen (31-21-3), who as of Tuesday morning, were just six points back of the Rebels in the standings.
“Obviously getting a goose egg this weekend – zero points. We’re not happy about it at all,” said Rebels Head Coach and GM Brent Sutter after Saturday night’s 5-2 loss to the Tri-City Americans (27-26-3) at the Centrium.
In three games last week, the Rebels posted a 1-2 record, including a win over the Medicine Hat Tigers at home on Wednesday night and losses against the Hitmen and Americans on Friday and Saturday respectively.
“You can’t give up four goals and five goals in games and think you’re going to win. You’ve got to shut it down, you’ve got to defend better, you’ve got to take more pride in that,” Sutter said, adding that while the second game was better than the first in the weekend, the team still wasn’t playing to the level that they expect.
Friday night’s road game was an example of a game where the team didn’t produce as well as they have been all season.
The Rebels were outshot 41-30 during the game. By contrast they outshot the Americans 37-24 in Saturday’s contest.
“For six minutes tonight we played like we did last night for 60 minutes. We were awful in our own zone, we had a lack of communication, we didn’t finish any checks, we were terrible around the front of our net. They got four goals on us in six-plus minutes,” Sutter said after Saturday’s performance.
“I thought we played about 54 good minutes and six minutes that ended up costing us tonight. Little things that need to get done and be executed each and every night and tonight it cost us,” added Alternate Captain Haydn Fleury.
Saturday’s game also brought more bad news for the Rebs, as starting goaltender Rylan Toth left the game during the second intermission with an apparent injury.
“We’ll see. It’s not good, but we’ll see where it goes,” Sutter said.
Toth’s injury adds to a long list of injured key players for the Rebels including forward Conner Bleackley and defenseman Josh Mahura.
As of Saturday night, Sutter had already made a call to Rebs’ third goalie Dawson Weatherill, a Red Deer native, to come in and cover the backup goaltender duties.
“It’s unfortunate. It’s just the way it’s gone this year with our injuries, we’ve had to battle through. It’s certainly not a position we want to get an injury in but, at the same time, there’s nothing you can do,” said Sutter, adding that defending will be a key position for the team from this point on.
It wasn’t all bad news for Red Deer, though. Newcomer Luke Philp made his long-awaited debut with the Rebels on Friday night, playing his first game since Nov. 21st. He also picked up his first point in a Rebels uniform on Saturday with an assist on Adam Musil’s first period goal.
Philp was acquired by the Rebels at the trade deadline but has been sidelined with an ankle injury.
This week, the Rebels head out on a four game B.C. road swing that includes four games in four nights starting in Kelowna on Tuesday night.