Wheat Kings clash with Knights on Monday
Red Deer, AB – It wasn’t the start they’d hoped for, but the resilient Red Deer Rebels didn’t let a two-goal deficit bury them, rebounding for five unanswered in a 5-2 win over the QMJHL champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies on Sunday.
San Jose Sharks prospect Adam Helewka scored twice while Jake DeBrusk had a goal and two assists and blueliner Haydn Fleury chipped in with a goal and a helper as the Rebels rebounded from a Friday night loss to London in fine fashion.
After falling behind 2-0, a timeout by coach Brent Sutter signaled a turning point in the game.
“I wouldn’t say we got called out but we had to take a hard look in the mirror,” said DeBrusk post-game. “We’re down 2-0 there and they had two chances and capitalized. It was a perfectly timed thing and coach just told us to stick with the program and the game plan that we had coming in here. We had to get back to our cycle game and through that we drew some penalties and played more in their zone.”
As for Sutter’s message in the pivotal timeout? He was lighthearted in relaying his version of events.
“I told them I loved them,” he joked. “We just had to get back to playing like we can play and don’t let the emotion of what’s going on in the game be a negative impact for us. Get back to playing like we can, get back to playing the way we have to play. We know our structure, we know the things we need to do.”
Red Deer’s power play went 3-for-9 on the game, taking advantage of some costly Rouyn-Noranda penalties to take over control of the game.
“We got ourselves into trouble and we paid for it,” said Huskies captain Francis Perron following the loss. “We need to be more disciplined than that, it cost us a lot tonight.”
Rylan Toth was steady when called upon in the Red Deer goal, turning aside 22 shots to record a much-needed win at the sold out ENMAX Centrium.
The Rebels had a dominant showing in the faceoff circle, going 46-of-74 (62%) thanks to the presence of Luke Philp and Adam Musil.
The Huskies turned the page on a poor third period showing Saturday night, getting on the board first with a power play goal 4:17 into the first period.
A failed Red Deer clearing attempt wound up on the stick of Francis Perron who wasted little time finding an open Timo Meier at the top of the far circle. The San Jose Sharks first round selection snapped a quick release over the shoulder of Rylan Toth to take some of the energy out of the ENMAX Centrium.
The Rebels nearly evened things up just shifts later as goaltender Chase Marchand scrambled across his crease for a desperation save on Ivan Nikolishin who briefly had an open net before the Huskies netminder closed the door.
Marchand’s save would prove valuable as Rouyn-Noranda extended their lead at the 12-minute mark. With a minor penalty expiring, the Huskies returned to even strength as Colorado Avalanche prospect Julien Nantel blazed down the left wing to deposit a low wrister inside the far post past Toth.
A Brent Sutter timeout seemed to rejuvenate his Rebels as the latter half of the first was controlled by Red Deer.
Conner Bleackley and Brandon Hagel combined to win a puck battle along the boards in the offensive zone, with the former finding an open Evan Polei who snapped a hard shot past Marchand from the left circle, bringing the sold out ENMAX Centrium to its feet at 11:07.
Red Deer outshot Rouyn-Noranda 11-7 in the first but trailed 2-1 at the intermission.
The Rebels came out with spring in their step with a fresh sheet in the second, burying three goals on 16 shots to bring the ENMAX Centrium to life.
DeBrusk stripped a Huskies defenceman of the puck at the offensive blueline and proceeded to win a foot race before centering for an oncoming Helewka who made no mistake, beating Marchand on a one-time release 40 seconds into action.
The Rebels would climb ahead on the power play four minutes later, controlling the puck around the perimeter before Nikolishin sent a perfectly placed shot from the point through traffic that got tipped by DeBrusk en route to the back of the net at 4:46.
Red Deer’s sensational second period continued with another goal from Helewka, also on the man advantage. Fleury’s fanned point attempt worked in Red Deer’s favour as his dribbler through traffic inspired a rebound for DeBrusk as he dished to a waiting Helewka who put the puck in the net with authority at 8:50 to give the Rebels a 4-2 lead.
Toth was doing his part too. The Rebels netminder turned away Antoine Waked on a two-on-one attempt, flashing the leather to the applause of the home crowd as the Rebels led 4-2 after 40 minutes.
Toth had to be sharp in the opening minutes of the third as the Huskies ratcheted up the desperation. Alexandre Fortin was left open for a one-timer in the slot that Toth calmly swallowed up without a rebound to preserve the two-goal lead. He then denied Martins Dzierkals on a similar opportunity shifts later.
The two clubs swapped glorious chances within a minute of each other approaching the six minute mark. Rouyn-Noranda’s Fortin earned himself another quality chance in alone on Toth but he couldn’t beat the Rebels netminder on a deke to the forehand. Less than a minute later Red Deer’s Luke Philp was robbed on a breakaway by Marchand as the overager picked a hard wrister out of the air with his glove to keep the score at 4-2.
Fleury would put things out of reach on a two-man advantage at 16:56, beating Marchand on a shot he got a piece of before the puck trickled over the line.
The Rebels improve to 1-1 at the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup, outshooting Rouyn-Noranda 38-24 on the night.
The loss marks the first time the Huskies have been outshot in back-to-back games since Dec. 5 (at Moncton) and 6th (at Acadie-Bathurst).
The Rebels are idle until Wednesday when they face the Brandon Wheat Kings in a rematch of the WHL Eastern Conference Finals.
The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies are off until Tuesday when they face the London Knights at 8:00pm MT/10:00pm ET on Sportsnet.