After playing five games in the last week, the Red Deer Rebels general manger Brent Sutter says his team is ready for the well-earned week-long break before they face off against the Vancouver Giants Saturday night on home ice.
The Rebels started off their week on home ice against the Brandon Wheat Kings where they took a staggering 6-1 win which kicked off a three-game winning streak against the Lethbridge Hurricanes (5-3) and the Calgary Hitmen (5-4).
However their streak came to an end Friday night at the hands of the Victoria Royals which saw the Rebels lose 2-1 during a shootout.
The Rebels found themselves in another shootout the following night against the Regina Pats in which Adam Musil, the 16th shooter in the lengthy shootout snuck one past the Pats’ goaltender.
Both shootouts together saw 32 players hit the line in two nights with Sutter stating it was Rebels goaltender Taz Burman who really blew him away.
“Although it’s exciting for the fans you never know when you get into the shootout, but Burms shut the door for us Saturday night, and we were able to get one in past their goalie,” said Sutter.
“When you’re on the winning side of the shootout it’s great and we saw that Saturday night, but when you’re on the losing side you can’t help but feel a bit cheated – but that’s what the shootout is all about.”
Sutter explained while the shootout is, “Supposed to be there to add a bit of excitement to the end of the game, at the end of the day you can’t base your night on how your team plays in the shootout.
“When you evaluate your game there’s no coach who will sit there and look at the shootout – we are going to look at the 65 minutes before that.”
Sutter said overall he was pleased with the Rebels’ performance over the last week. He explained every game they played was tough on the team and although they took four wins over the week he would like to see some improvement in the details of the team’s dynamic.
“There’s going to be nights where you play well throughout the game but you don’t happen to win and there’s going to be nights where you don’t play as well as you should’ve and I felt as though Saturday night was one of those games where maybe certain elements and details weren’t as good as they should’ve been, but the emotion was there,” said Sutter.
“Our puck possession wasn’t there early on, we weren’t making good decisions and had more turnovers than we would’ve liked to have seen and we just weren’t reacting defensively but after we took the time out we rose to the level that we like to see our team at.”
Both teams saw issues with reffing during the back and forth battle between the Rebels and Pats particularly in the last 10 minutes of the game after a questionable call of goaltender interference against Rebels forward Evan Polei after he was cross -checked into the Pats goaltender, which left the crowd of over 5,000 fans loudly booing officials.
Sutter stated he felt, “The last 10 or 12 minutes of the game the reffing took the game out of the hands of the players – which is unfortunate.”
Meanwhile, the first part of the Rebels’ week is going to be about rest and getting healthy, explained Sutter.
“Some guys have been playing banged up and it’s been a tough haul for the last week and it’s going to be nice for the team to have a few days to get healed up.
“We need to have some solid practices this week and keep our edge strong to prepare for Saturday and we don’t want to drop our guard. We need to get anything that is nagging guys as far as bumps and bruises go taken care of so that come Saturday we are as close to 100 per cent as possible both mentally and physically.”
He added the schedule has been grueling and that while it does wear on you a little bit it means the break is well deserved for the players.
“Now it’s just a matter of making sure we handle the break well and get ready for the weekend.”
The Rebels’ next puck drop will take place Jan. 24th against the Vancouver Giants at 7 p.m. at the Centrium.