April 17th, 2024

Rebels looking for more as series turns to Red Deer

By JAMES TUBB on April 2, 2024.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Red Deer Rebels captain Kai Uchacz makes a cross-ice pass in the Medicine Hat Tigers end in the first period of a 3-1 Game 2 win for the Tigers at Co-op Place Saturday.


The Red Deer Rebels were heartbreakers Friday in Game 1 of their first-round series against the Medicine Hat Tigers. A day later, they only managed that next level for a period in Game 2.

The Rebels scored five unanswered goals Friday night to come back and beat the Tigers 5-4 in double overtime, winning Game 1. In the second game of the series, the Rebels turned it on late with a 19-shot third period that netted one goal, but saw the comeback bid fall short in a 3-1 loss.

Head coach Dave Struch says his team didn’t take enough of what got them the victory Friday into Saturday.

“We saw what kind of success we can have with a little bit of pushback,” Struch said. “When you play that bad against a good team, they’re going to be able to take advantage of it and they did tonight.”

Red Deer outshot the Tigers 31-26 in the loss Saturday after being outshot 42-34 in their win Friday. In their Game 1 win, Struch liked how their experience came into effect as they clawed their way back into a tie game and pulled off the double OT win.

“When we dig deep into our lineup here, I think we got some really good minutes from some guys who probably didn’t think they were going to play that much,” Struch said postgame Friday. “That’s a big part of having team success, when everybody’s involved. At the beginning there I thought they took it to us because of their skill level and I think we settled in and started getting pucks.”

Chase Wutzke started both games for Red Deer, making 38 saves in the win Friday and stopping 23 on Saturday.

As the series turns back to Red Deer for Game 3 tonight and Game 4 on Wednesday, it’s that third-period effort that Struch is looking for his team to replicate over 60 minutes.

“We have to play the right way,” Struch said. “We have to play on our toes, we can’t sit back. We have to play an aggressive-style game, we have to play Rebel hockey.”

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