The return from their two-week Christmas break was anything but joyous for the Red Deer Rebels.
On a night when their power play sputtered going 0-for-6, the Rebels were flattened 6-0 by the visiting Vancouver Giants at the Enmax Centrium Friday night.
It’s the first time the Rebels have been shutout in 33 games this season.
“Too perimeter, not enough guys wanting to be around the net and battling,” Rebels Gm/head coach Brent Sutter said about his team’s powerless power play. “We all wanted to be deflectors or shooters or whatever, but we never showed enough assertiveness to be able to capitalize on the power play.”
After a goalless first period, and three more fruitless Rebels power plays, Vancouver opened the scoring 12:18 into period two when Washington Capitals prospect Alex Kannok-Leipert collected a rebound and beat Rebels goalie Ethan Anders for his second goal of the year.
Vancouver doubled its lead at the 17:07 mark as Davis Koch converted a perfect pass from Brayden Watts into his tenth tally of the season.
20-year-old forward Jared Legien, playing in his first game with the Giants after being picked up from Yorkton of the SJHL, made it a 3-0 game 5:36 into the final frame.
That opened the flood gates for Vancouver as former Rebel Jared Dmytriw beat Anders 30 seconds later to make it 4-0. Less than two minutes after that Justin Sourdif made it 5-0 and chased Anders from the game.
With Byron Fancy between the pipes for Red Deer, Nielsen ripped home his second goal of the game on another Giants power play with 6:35 remaining to put the wraps on a dominant Vancouver victory.
Vancouver outshot Red Deer 35-28 on the night – after the Rebels had been outshooting the Giants 21-8 midway through the game. The Giants finished 2-for-4 on the power play.
“For half the game we were fine,” Sutter said. “Our power play didn’t give us what we needed for production, but then we gave up two goals. We make a bad line change. We don’t pick up a guy coming back and backcheck like we’re supposed to and we’re down 2-0. You still have to make a push in the third and we never did.”
It certainly didn't help that the Rebels were without powwr play quarterback Alexander Alexeyev as the star Russian plays for his country at the World Juniors. Veteran forward Brett Davis missed the game due to the flu.
With the loss, Red Deer fell to 21-11-2-0 on the season and out of first place in the WHL Central Division. Edmonton, who defeated Calgary 7-3 Friday, leads the division with 44 points followed by Red Deer and Lethbridge each with 42.
The Rebels are right back in action Saturday night when they entertain the Edmonton Oil Kings at the Enmax Centrium (7 p.m. on 106.7 THE DRIVE) for the start of a home and home series.
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