After playing four games in five nights the week before, the Red Deer Rebels had a relatively light week last week playing just a pair of weekend home games, shutting out Prince Albert 3-0 before beating Brandon 5-2.
On Friday night, the Rebels got the opening goal from Swedish winger John Persson halfway through the first period before a power play marker from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins made it 2-0 just three minutes later.
Most of the crowd at the Enmax Centrium thought the rout was on, but Raiders netminder Jamie Tucker was able to close the door for the rest of the period to send his team to locker room trailing on the scoreboard, and the shot clock (12-8).
The Raiders came out firing on all cylinders in the second period, outshooting the Rebels 16 to eight in the middle frame, but the only goal came off the stick of Adam Kambietz to make it 3-0 Red Deer after 40.
Try as they may, the Raiders weren’t able to beat Darcy Kuemper, who picked up his fifth shutout of the year, tying a franchise record for the most shutouts in a single season.
It was also his 11th shutout as a Rebel, tying the franchise record set by Cam Ward, who also had 11 over his career in Red Deer.
Saturday night, the Brandon Wheat Kings rolled into the Enmax Centrium bolstered by the return of Brayden Schenn, who had been sent back to junior by the Los Angeles Kings on Friday.
And despite outshooting the home side 9-1 at one point in the first period, it was the Rebels who jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes, thanks to goals from Andrej Kudrna, Matt Dumba and Brett Ferguson.
“We started a little slow but we got off to that 3-0 lead and the message between periods was no looking back,” said Ferguson, who helped his squad improve to 10-3 on home ice this season.
“Don’t play for the score, play like it’s 0-0 and lets keep going after these guys. I think after the first period we controlled the play a lot and that’s what we want to do, especially on home ice. We want to make this the toughest building to come in and play in.
“I think we started that a bit last year, as we played pretty well on home ice. Our mentality is that every point is ours and the other team has to crawl out of the building.”
Kudrna, with his second of the night, put the Rebels up 4-0 just 1:38 into the second period, spelling the end of the night for Wheat Kings netminder Liam Liston, who stopped four of the eight shots he faced in the contest.
Just over two minutes later, Schenn would cut the deficit to 4-1 with his first of the year, but five minutes after that, John Persson put the game away with his ninth of the year.
That was all the scoring until the 19:59 mark of the third period when Scott Glennie beat Kuemper on a five on three power play.
“I thought we got better as the game went on,” said Wallin.
“I thought their team came out with a lot of energy and getting Brayden Schenn back was a big lift for them. It looked like their team was excited and had some energy and they came at us pretty hard. They controlled the play in our zone through most of the first period. It was huge for us to capitalize on some opportunities early on to get the lead and then we settled in.”
The Rebels will be looking to improve on their 20-7-1-2 season record this Friday when they welcome the Kelowna Rockets to town.
On Saturday, Red Deer will host Regina.