Rebels Blow Past Hurricanes in Preseason Finale
To suggest that the Red Deer Rebels wrapped up their WHL preseason on a positive note Saturday evening would be an understatement.
The Rebels were the superior squad from start to finish in a 6-1 thumping of the Lethbridge Hurricanes before roughly 500 fans at the Peavey Mart Centrium.
"It's nice to end (the preseason) on a good note," said Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk, whose club finished exhibition play with a 3-2 record. "Our guys came out and played the right way. Since training camp the team as a whole has improved, come together and built some chemistry.
"They played hard for each other tonight."
Following a scoreless opening period in which Red Deer held a 14-7 advantage in shots, the hosts blew the game open with four unanswered goals in the middle frame.
Kai Uchacz opened the scoring midway through the period, taking a nifty drop pass from Kalan Lind and unleashing a rising laser from the low slot.
Arshdeep Bains converted a rebound at 12:15, then fed Christoffer Sedoff with a rink-wide pass that the defenceman buried on a power play 50 seconds later.
Newcomer Blake Stevenson added to the total with another man advantage tally, tucking a rebound past 'Canes starting netminder Bryan Thomson.
"I felt like we were clicking, the power play was for sure," said second-year defenceman Jace Weir, who picked up three assists, including two with Lethbridge a man short.
"We were just following our systems and just sticking to our game and it worked."
Thanks mainly to the work of 'Canes netminder Thomson and Jared Picklyk, who replaced the starter after Jhett Larson upped the count to 5-0 just 57 seconds into the third period, the Rebels' power play results (two-for-10) didn't match their execution.
However . . .
"I'm happy with the puck movement and the game plan. Guys are going out there having a role to play and a job to do and they're executing," said Konowalchuk.
"We're building chemistry on the power play, just finding each other," added Weir. "I feel that every guy is a threat out there. It's clicking and it's working."
Rookie forward Talon Brigley notched the Rebels' final goal at 7:12 of the third period, chipping a rebound past Picklyk, and Noah Boyko, from a scramble, ruined the shutout bid of Red Deer netminder Chase Coward with four minutes remaining.
Thomson turned aside 25 of the 30 shots he faced before giving way to Picklyk, who stopped 13 of 14. Coward made 27 saves.
"I'm happy with the game," said Konowalchuk. "We'll keep improving. It's always a plus to end on a good note but there's always things to work on."
Weir, who had seven assists during exhibition play, liked the progression the Rebels showed over the five preseason games.
"I felt we got better every game, taking little steps each single game," he said. "I think we're ready for the regular season."
The Rebels open the 2021-22 WHL season next Friday in Edmonton against the Oil Kings, then hosts their northern neighbours the following night.
Notable: Three of the four Rebels NHL campers - Ben King (Calgary), Jayden Grubbe (NY Rangers) and Connor Ungar (Calgary) have returned to Red Deer. Defenceman Kyle Masters is still with the Minnesota Wild . . . The Hurricanes were assessed seven minor penalties and two misconducts in the third period, mostly out of frustration . . . Weir and five of his teammates enjoyed a multi-point game as Sedoff, Uchacz, Bains, Larson and Stevenson each had a goal and an assist.
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