Defenseman Alexander Alexeyev scored twice as the Red Deer Rebels battled hard for the game against the Calgary Hitmen, 3-1, Tuesday night.
Brandon Hagel hit the back of the empty net from the Rebel’s blue line, making it three points for Red Deer.
Ethan Anders made 30 saves for Red Deer’s third straight win.
Rebels Acting Head Coach Brad Flynn, who took over while General Manager and Head Coach Brent Sutter was away for the night, said the team started out strong but then took their foot off the gas.
“I thought we left our foot off the gas, which we have been doing lately,” he said. “A lot of credit goes to our veteran guys, our twenty-year-olds.”
He added, “They pulled through and started grinding again and obviously, everyone else followed suit and Andy was great in that.”
With a little over two minutes into the game, Alexeyev found the back of the net with assists from Jacob Herauf and River Fahey.
He found it again in the first at 14:14, with assists from Jacob Herauf and Oleg Zaytsev.
“He gives us lots of minutes every night and he’s a wonderful kid and a really good player,” said Flynn of Alexeyev.
“We wanted to make sure we got pucks a little higher and get shots from the top and he did a good job of that tonight.”
Hitmen defenceman Egor Zamula scored his team’s powerplay goal with assists from Jake Kryski and Vladislav Yeryomenko at 17 minutes into the first.
Neither team managed to find the net during the second and it was a period of almost scoring but not quite getting there.
“I think we just got away from our identity,” explained Flynn about the slow third period.
“Brent’s really big on our identity about being courageous and competitive. We got away from that and started turning pucks over at the blue lines and when we do that we’re an average team but when we stick to our identity and keep it simple, we show what we can do.”
Tuesday’s game also featured some major fighting with River Fahey facing five minutes in the penalty box as well as Alexeyev. The Hitmen’s Zach Huber and Dakota Krebs also served five each for fighting with the Rebels.
As he usually does, Anders made some excellent saves throughout the night. At 3:01 in the third, Anders made an impressive one keeping Red Deer up 2-1.
“I thought we battled hard,” said Rebels Captain Reese Johnson. “I know a couple areas we need to work on and clean up, but overall a pretty good effort there.”
He added, “Obviously, it was close all game and we just stuck with it and battled hard and that is what we wanted to do.”
It was the Rebels third straight win effectively ending the Calgary Hitmen’s four-win streak.
The Rebels hit the road to face the Medicine Hat Tigers on Wednesday. They host the Saskatoon Blades on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Centrium.