The Red Deer Rebels are probably wishing they could play the Edmonton Oil Kings every weekend.
The Rebels kicked off their 2010-2011 Western Hockey League season this past weekend with a home and home set with the Edmonton Oil Kings, starting Friday at Rexall Place.
Matt Dumba, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Tyson Ness and Andrej Kudrna scored the goals in that one while netminder Darcy Kuemper kicked aside 26 shots in a 4-1 win over the home team.
On Saturday night, the Rebels treated their fans to quite the home opening performance, scoring early and often in an 8-1 rout of Edmonton.
Kudrna opened the scoring just 38 seconds into the contest, and added one more goal and two assists in earning first star of the night honours.
“I think it was a very good game for us,” said Kudrna, who leads the Rebels with five points in two games.
“It was very important to get that second win of the weekend. It was a huge four points in two games.”
Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin agreed with the Slovak winger.
“I liked the fact that we came out hard,” said Wallin after Saturdays win.
“It’s the night of your home opener where there can easily be some distractions, if you allow them to be, and I thought our veteran guys showed good leadership, both on the ice and in the room.”
Wallin was also pleased to see his charges put in a full 60 minute effort.
“Friday night, we let off the gas a little bit in the second period and it continued through the game,” admitted Wallin.
“But Saturday, I thought we sustained the momentum we wanted to have and it was a good effort. It was our home opener, the guys were excited and we got some good leadership and good efforts from the bottom end up.
With Saturday’s game well in hand as early as it was, Wallin and his coaching staff had the luxury of giving the younger guys more ice time and they did not disappoint.
Rookie Chad Robinson picked up two assists in the game, while fellow newcomer Marc McCoy tallied his first ever WHL goal.
“I thought our young guys played very well,” praised Wallin.
“Up front, kids like Ness and Robinson, both of whom played very well two nights in a row. Marc McCoy got into his first game and scored a goal, and he was a big body out there. We’ve got some kids we’re excited about and they’ve played well.”
Special teams was another area that caught the eye of Red Deer’s coaching staff, with the power play going four for 10 over the two games, while the penalty killers are still perfect, having killed off all of Edmonton’s chances with the man advantage.
“Overall, we did a good job of pressuring them up ice and forced the dump, which we want to do,” said Wallin, who liked the intensity he saw out of the special teams.
“We didn’t allow them to gain with possession. The power play, I thought, we moved the puck around really well. I thought we did that on Friday as well. We’ve got some skilled guys out there, that are not only skilled but are very intelligent players. They made smart decisions, had good awareness and were able to take what they were given and execute well.”
Up next for the 2-0 Rebels is a home date tonight against the Kootenay Ice, in a match up that should be a much better test for Red Deer, as the Ice finished fourth in the Eastern Conference last season and have a good core of veterans returning for this year.
Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.