It may only be the pre-season, but the Red Deer Rebels could be giving fans a glimpse of things to come this year.
After their first two exhibition games, the Rebels found themselves sporting a 2-0 record heading into last night’s game against the Hurricanes in Lethbridge (results were not available by press time).
The Rebels opened the pre-season last Wednesday with a 3-0 win over the Calgary Hitmen in Airdrie.
Lane Scheidl, Adam Kambeitz and Tyson Ness had the goals, while netminders Kraymer Barnstable and Bolton Pouliot each played about 30 minutes in sharing the shutout.
It was a performance that Rebels bench boss Jesse Wallin wanted to see from the young guys.
“I thought Scheidl played very well,” said Wallin after the game.
“He was very tenacious, and he had some opportunities in front of the net. Dalton (Siwak) is another guy who played well. I thought Kambeitz also looked good. He controlled the play at both ends of the rink, and he’s another guy who just looks more confident and has more patience with the puck.”
On Saturday night, Innisfail played host as the Rebels and Hitmen met up again, but this one was a little closer.
The Rebels had a 1-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes thanks to a goal from Arseni (Steve) Oursov, but after a steady stream to the penalty box, the squad found themselves down 2-1 after two periods of play.
“I thought we were far too casual in the second period,” admitted Wallin, who wasn’t happy with his squad’s consistency on Saturday night.
“I thought we had full control in the first, we came out and established our game exactly how we wanted to. We came in the second and got sloppy and lazy and took a bunch of stupid penalties and when you do that, that’s what ends up happening. We gave them the momentum.”
The third period saw the Rebels tie things up early, with Scheidl getting Red Deer into a 2-2 tie with 18 minutes left in the game.
Just before the 10 minute mark of the third period, Innisfail native Nick Bell, who was designated for assignment by the club on Monday, put Red Deer up 3-2, but Calgary quickly responded to get the game back on even footing.
“I thought we came out hard in the third, and started to establish our game again, but then we go and make it hard on ourselves again,” said Wallin.
“The times we did get into trouble, it was when our defensemen turned pucks over. On their tying goal, we had our defenseman trying to beat a guy one on one in the neutral zone, it ends up getting turned over and one of two things usually happens there; you get scored on or you take a penalty. We got scored on.”
After a scoreless overtime, Siwak and Mason Burr tallied shootout goals to give Red Deer the 4-3 win.
Despite the mistakes, Wallin ultimately knows that this is the time for players to make them, and not during the regular season or during the playoffs.
“The unfortunate thing about a game like Saturday is that it’s difficult to evaluate certain players because you can’t get certain guys on the ice,” said Wallin.
“You spend all night chasing the puck, and killing penalties. But it’s the time of year where we’re going to use this as a learning experience. We’ve got some young guys in the line up, and they got their eyes opened that way, about how things work at this level.”
The final two preseason games will be played in Central Alberta, as Lacombe will host a Rebels – Oil Kings matchup on Friday night, while Stettler will serve as the home rink on Saturday night when the Rebels battle Medicine Hat.