The Red Deer Rebels came up empty Wednesday night at the Centrium as they were blanked 4-0 by the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings.
It’s the second time the Rebels have been shutout this season with the other being a 6-0 loss on Dec. 28 to Vancouver.
“I didn’t think we played very well, we didn’t have enough guys play well for us tonight,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “That’s too bad. It was a big game, which they all are as this time of the year, but just too many mistakes.”
Brandon opened the scoring midway through the opening period when Ty Thorpe stole the puck from Hunter Donohoe behind the Rebels net before sliding it past Ethan Anders for his first WHL goal.
“I didn’t like the first goal. We turn the puck over behind the net and our goalie isn’t ready for it. You just can’t play like that right now. We’ve been pretty inconsistent with our play, probably moreso at home than on the road," Sutter lamented.
The Wheat Kings made it 2-0 just over 10 minutes into period two on a point shot from Braden Schneider that deflected off a Rebels player and clipped the post before going in.
The Rebels came out strong in the third period in their bid for a comeback. But they were unable to bend the twine before Luka Burzan scored a power play goal for Brandon with three minutes remaining to seal the win. Caiden Daley added a shorthanded empty net goal to make it a 4-0 final.
“It was just one of those nights, we weren’t sharp for whatever reason,” Sutter surmised. “We were better in the third period, but again you don’t capitalize on your opportunities and they (Wheat Kings) pick away.”
Goaltender Connor Ungar, who recently turned 17 and was making just his second WHL start, was outstanding for Brandon. The Calgary native turned aside all 34 Rebels shots on goal.
Brandon recorded 29 shots on goal and was 1-for-5 on the power play. The Rebels went 0-for-5 on the power play and raised a red flag for Sutter.
“You have to have your power play generating offence and momentum for you. We just haven’t produced on it like we need to. That first unit is supposed to be all of our top players, but we’re not getting production out of it.”
The top power play unit is currently missing the key services of Alexander Alexeyev as the star Russian defenceman remains out week-to-week with an upper body injury.
Next up for the Rebels is a Friday night visit to Lethbridge to battle the Hurricanes (7 p.m. on 106.7 THE DRIVE). Saturday night the Rebels take on the Calgary Hitmen back at the Centrium.
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