DODGING HITMEN- Red Deer Rebel Locke Muller looks to pass during WHL action Friday night against the Calgary Hitmen. The Rebels took down the Hitmen with a 4-1 win.

Mixed bag for Rebels over the weekend

Team still holds onto strong standing having garnered two wins

Two wins and an overtime loss.

That’s how the weekend went for the Red Deer Rebels, who came within a minute 58 of going three for three.

The weekend started off with a 4-1 win over Calgary Friday night at the Enmax Centrium before the boys went down to Lethbridge and blanked the home side 3-0 on Saturday.

Sunday saw the Rebels return to the Centrium for their only Sunday home game of the season, and despite a slow start, Red Deer was able to pick up a point in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Prince George Cougars.

John Persson got Red Deer on the board first, with his 26th of the year, but the Cougars scored the next two to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.

After a scoreless second period, Chad Robinson tied things up with his second of the season, before Persson got his second of the night to make it 3-2 Red Deer.

With just 1:58 remaining, Cougars star and Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick Brett Connolly would make it 3-3, sending the game to overtime.

Halfway through the overtime period, Andrej Kudrna was sent off for slashing, and not long after, Connolly would get his second of the night to give the Cougars a 4-3 win on the final game of their five game Alberta road trip.

“It was a frustrating night. We had a slow start and we allowed them to score easily, just on some breakdowns,” said Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin after Sunday’s game.

“I didn’t think we battled hard enough through the first period. The first goal was a terrible turnover, a soft turnover. We just weren’t sharp. Our powerplay wasn’t sharp and ended up, on two breakdowns, giving up two easy goals. I thought we got better in the second period and limited their opportunities and then I thought we really played well, for the most part, through the third period. But ultimately, at the end of the night, some breakdowns cost us. On the third goal, we’re backing into the zone and then the fourth goal ends up being the game winner on a penalty that you just can’t take in overtime. It’s just an undisciplined, unnecessary, costly penalty.”

Winger Brett Ferguson, who, along with Byron Froese, took some shifts on defense over the weekend as injuries to Matt Dumba and Justin Weller kept those two out of the line up, agreed with his head coach.

“We didn’t come out very hard, and maybe we controlled the play a little bit, but we really didn’t play the way we can until the third period,” said Ferguson, who extended his point-scoring streak to 14 games with an assist on Persson’s second goal against Prince George.

“When you don’t play the first two periods the way you can, it tends to come back and bite you and that’s something we’ve got to work on is playing a full 60 minutes.”

Despite the loss, Wallin was still of how his charges played throughout the weekend.

“I think it would have been easy to go into the weekend and use the fact that you’re missing three defenseman as an excuse,” said Wallin, who was also without rookie blueliner Matt Puhfal because of an injury.

“We had guys that had to step up and play different roles and I thought, overall, through the course of the weekend, a lot of guys stepped up but it was certainly disappointing to lose one where you feel like you’ve got it in hand and let it slip away.”

The Rebels, who clinched their second straight playoff berth with the win over Calgary, are back in action this weekend, hosting Lethbridge on Friday and Kamloops on Saturday.

sports@big105.fm

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