RED DEER- The Red Deer Rebels find themselves in a tight playoff race with 19 games left in the season.
The team is trying to bounce back from a three-game losing streak with games Friday and Saturday versus the Regina Pats and Moose Jaw Warriors.
The Rebels fell 5-1 against the Calgary Hitmen last Saturday at the Westerner Park Centrium and have slipped down to the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Rebels defenceman Carson Sass explains how the team needs to adjust going forward.
“I think it’s just getting back to the basics and back to the team play. We’re five months into the season and sometimes this stuff happens but I think we just need to get back to it and work hard and good things will come.”
Sass says he’s trying to maintain a winning mentality down the stretch.
“Every game from now to the end of the season are important games and with our division being so tight we need to bear down on games at home, especially since we have a lot of road games coming up.
“We just need to win games. They’re like playoff games now and yeah sure we have some games in hand but I don’t think that really matters if you’re not winning games.”
Forward Chris Douglas, who has 24 points in 49 games this season, says the team has a good idea of what they need to do moving forward.
“We’ve done it before. This week is really just about kind of regrouping and coming together as a team,” he said. “At this time of the season it’s obviously not good to drop three games in a row but right now we really just have to focus on what’s up next and can’t really dwell on the past but also fix the problems.”
The WHL Central Division is extremely close with five teams within seven points of each other.
Assistant coach Brad Flynn talked about the pressure a situation like that brings to a hockey club.
“There’s internal pressure that we want to make sure we finish in the top of (the division) and every game we go into we want to win, regardless of where we are in the standings. There is pressure but it’s good pressure. We want to make sure that we’re ready to go for playoffs and we’re playing playoff style games right now.”
The Rebels have had a week to re-focus after their losing streak and Douglas feels the players aren’t letting it get to them.
“It’s a close group in the dressing room and I think that’s really what’s going to help us get through this. We know the system, we know the structure but it’s really just the guys and wanting to do it for the guy next to you.”
The Rebels have two home games over the weekend before playing 10 of their next 11 games on the road while the 2019 Canada Winter Games are in town.
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