A 0-2 weekend sure does bring things back into focus pretty quickly.
That’s the situation the Red Deer Rebels find themselves this week after a pair of losses to Central Division rival Medicine Hat this weekend.
The WHL club, which had opened the season with three straight wins, suffered back to back losses, falling 2-1 to the Tigers in Medicine Hat on Friday and then following that up with a 4-1 loss to Medicine Hat at the Enmax Centrium on Saturday.
“I was disappointed in the sense that we came out hard (on Saturday) in the first ten minutes, and I thought we were working, we were fore checking, and we drew some penalties because of that,” said Rebels vice president of hockey operations and head coach Jesse Wallin, who wasn’t mincing words after Saturday’s loss.
“We had some real good opportunities on the powerplay and created some opportunities early, had a lot of shots, and we didn’t put one by. We allowed that, in my opinion, to frustrate us. We kind of cratered after that, and rather than digging in and staying with it, we just seemed to sag and get down and lost some energy and some intensity and all of a sudden our game started to get sloppy. We just didn’t play well enough.”
The Rebels did what they could to try and get more than one behind Tigers starter Deven Dubyk, who had some family in the crowd Saturday night, firing 69 shots his way over the two games.
But Wallin says you can’t look at the shot clock and say the Rebels dominated either tilt.
“You look at the shots, and it can be a little bit deceptive,” opined the third year head coach.
“We outshot them by a wide margin, but we gave up seven outnumbered rushes, and a couple of two on ones. We gave up a two on oh off a bad change. I mean, it’s just little details. But we gave up some quality opportunities, and our goaltender made some big saves as well. It’s details and it’s sticking with it.”
Red Deer’s powerplay, which had gone six for 12 over the club’s season opening trio of wins, went one for eight on Saturday and accounted for both goals over the weekend.
“They pressured hard and we knew they were going to,” said Wallin.
“They were pressuring (Ryan) Nugent-Hopkins pretty hard on the half wall, so we tried to break that a bit. But overall, I thought their penalty kill outworked our powerplay in a lot of areas. We did a good job of breaking pressure at times, but then we were trying to force plays and we were trying to do too much. I just thought they battled a little harder for the puck than we did and were able to get it down the ice.”
Up next for the Rebels is a four game Saskatchewan road trip, and Wallin thinks the trip couldn’t come at a better time.
“It’s a big trip for us, no question,” said Wallin, who is looking forward to getting out on the road and putting this loss behind them.
“We’ll take what we need to from this one (Tigers game) and get re-focused and ready to go and have a big start to the trip. It’s a good opportunity for the guys to get together and spend the week getting to know each other. You get away from all the distractions and all the things going on around you.”
The Rebels were in Swift Current last night, although results weren’t available by press time.
The road trip continues tonight in Regina.