Defenseman Alexander Akexeyev scored the only goal for the Rebels during the season home opener Saturday night. Defensemen Dawson Barteaux and Jeff de Witt picked up assists. Robin Grant/Red Deer Express

Red Deer Rebels lose to Edmonton Oil Kings 4-1 at home opener

General Manager and Coach Brent Sutter said team ‘played hard’

The Red Deer Rebels started their 2018-19 Western Hockey League season home opener on a low point with a 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings Saturday.

The Oil Kings started the game off strong in the Enmax Centrium arena when Captain Trey Fix-Wolansky found the back of the net, getting Edmonton on the board in the first period.

With just over five minutes left in the period, Rebels Defenseman Alexander Akexeyev scored the only goal for the Rebels, with Defensemen Dawson Barteaux and Jeff de Witt picking up assists.

The rest of the game belonged to the Oil Kings. At the beginning of the second period, the team regained their lead when Vince Loschiavo scored the second goal.

At the end of the second period, the Oil Kings were also leading with shots on goal 28-17.

In what looked like an opportunity to tie the game in the third period, a shot by Forward Zak Smith was called off with a high stick.

With less than five minutes left to play in the third, David Kope scored the Oil Kings’ third goal, while Fix-Wolansky and Wyatt McLeod picked up assists.

With minutes left in the game, the Rebels pulled Goalie Ethan Anders for a fourth attacker in a move to tie the game. But the effort did not work in the Rebels’ favour, as Scott Atkinson scored the final goal for Edmonton.

The home opener was the second night in a row the Rebels played the Oil Kings. On Friday night in Edmonton, the Rebels lost 4-2.

Speaking with reporters after the game, General Manager and Head Coach Brent Sutter, said the team has young players who are still learning the ropes.

“It’s going to be a process,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do with these young kids. You get caught up in some of it too much in not realizing where your youth (are) and you’ve got to continue to work with them and continue to try and make them better.”

Despite the second loss in two nights, Sutter said he was not disappointed with the team’s effort.

“I thought we played hard,” he said. “I thought we competed hard. But like I said, there are some young players’ mistakes and we just have to keep working at stuff … it’s just little things like understanding a game a little better.”

The Rebels play their next game at home on Sept. 28th at 7 p.m. where they will host the Calgary Hitmen.

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