Rebels bounce back after tough loss

The Red Deer Rebels certainly put on some extra miles this past weekend.

The Rebels travelled to Cranbrook Friday night and, despite opening the scoring on a goal from Colten Mayor, lost 4-1 to division rival, the Kootenay Ice.

After that game, the Rebels got back on the bus and headed south to Spokane, where they downed the Chiefs 4-2 on Saturday night.

Rebels head coach and vice-president of hockey operations Jesse Wallin was pleased with how his club bounced back after a tough loss on Friday.

“It was a gutsy win,” said Wallin, who watched the Ice score two empty net goals on Friday to make the score seem a little more lopsided than it actually was.

“We were coming off a loss Friday night where I thought we kind of shot ourselves in the foot. We played a real good hockey game and gift wrapped the winning goal and it was a frustrating loss. I thought we came in here (Spokane) and showed a lot of character against a team that has a tough building to play in.

“It’s a real loud atmosphere and I thought we came in against a team that was fresh, hadn’t played the night before and they tried to get the jump on us and we dug our heels in and got the first goal, which was huge.”

The Rebels, now 9-5 on the season after their 1-1 weekend, had to play the two game road set without number one defenseman Alex Petrovic, who was injured in the late going’s of last Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to the Kamloops Blazers at the Enmax Centrium.

“I thought we got a real good effort out of a lot of guys, particularly our defense,” said Wallin, who, without the services of Petrovic, went with five defenseman for most of both games.

“Guys like (Colin) Archer, (Justin) Weller, and (Matt) Dumba played a lot of minutes and played very well and shut down the Chiefs’ top guys. I thought we also got a grittier effort out of our forwards as far as getting to the net and creating opportunities. Not so much creating, but finishing. We dug in around the net and we scored some big goals. I mean, if you can score a few goals and you’re only giving up one of two a night, you’re going to win more often than not.”

John Persson, Weller, Byron Froese and Turner Elson had the goals for Red Deer on Saturday, while 20-year-old net minder Darcy Kuemper made 31 saves for his ninth win of the year.

“Kuemps was solid for us, and he knew he was going to have to be,” said Wallin, who noted that Kuemper may have something else driving his game on Saturday night.

“Coming back to Spokane, where he started his career, I think he had some extra motivation in that way and good for him. He was there when we needed him. He was really sharp on their power plays. The Chiefs have a pretty good power play, and they move the puck pretty well. They have a different set up than we’ve seen from any other team, and I thought we did a good job killing and certainly Kuemps was a part of that.”

The Rebels will now get a good week of practice in before playing a pair of home games this weekend, Friday night against Vancouver and Saturday night versus Saskatoon.

The coaching staff is hopeful that Petrovic will be back in the line up by then, but if not, they’ll go with the same set up they did this past weekend.