The Red Deer Rebels put up four goals before the midmark of the second period, sending the Kootenay Ice reeling to their seventh consecutive loss Friday night at Western Financial Place.
“It’s tough right now, we’ve lost seven in a row,” said Ice forward Austin Vetterl after the game. “We had a good push in the third period but ultimately, we have to have a better start. We can’t put ourselves behind the eight-ball right away.
“We can’t look down on ourselves. We just have to keep pushing.”
Vetterl recorded two assists skating alongside Luke Philp and Jaedon Descheneau on the team’s first line.
“Those two guys are pretty skilled players,” Vetterl added. “I just get them the puck, try to create space for them and get open or get to the net and keep my stick on the ice, because you know those guys are going to find me.”
A two-goal third period by the home team made things interesting, but the Rebels responded with three goals of their own en route to their fourth consecutive win.
“We’ve got to shore up our defensive end,” said forward Levi Cable after the game. “The offensive end was coming [in the third period], but a couple mistakes led to goals.”
The Rebels got out to a quick start, building a two-goal advantage before the game was 10 minutes old. Forward Adam Musil, who leads the Rebels in scoring with 16 points in 15 games, started things off before Meyer Nell added his fifth goal of the season to make it 2-0 for the visitors.
A slow start to the second period all but put this one out of reach for the Ice. First, Brooks Maxwell used a great individual effort to send a wraparound to the back of the net 61 seconds into the period.
After Rebels defenceman Kayle Doetzel was flagged for roughing, Ice forward Jaedon Descheneau missed a wide-open net in tight on the power play. As is often the case, a missed scoring opportunity at one end of the rink was followed up by another made good at the opposite end. After Descheneau’s miss, Scott Feser broke in on Wyatt Hoflin, sending a backhand shot to the top shelf for a short-handed marker that gave the Rebels a 4-0 advantage. It was all the visitors needed to get out of Cranbrook with two points as Feser’s goal stood as the game-winner.
Levi Cable cut into the Rebels lead midway through the second period, kick-starting a push from the hosts. Descheneau bulled his way below the goal line and around the net before feeding Cable whose wrist shot found iron before bouncing off the back of Rebels goaltender Rylan Toth and into the net.
Cable added an assist to his ledger before the night was over.
“Obviously some of that was luck,” Cable said. “Off the post and off the goalie’s back was nice.
“I saw [Descheneau] go behind the net and go low and just realized I had to get open somewhere near the net. There wasn’t a whole bunch of players around there so I found the open spot and he made a good pass and found me there.”
Ice defenceman Rinat Valiev and forward Vince Loschiavo scored early in the third period, but Meyer Nell’s second of the night restored the Rebels two-goal edge. Grayson Pawlenchuk and Evan Polei tallied late to round out the scoring for Red Deer.
Toth made 28 saves between the pipes for the Rebels, getting his seventh win of the year.
At the other end, Hoflin turned aside 22 shots as the Ice fell to 3-13-0-0.
The win pushed Red Deer to 7-7-1-0 on the season.
The announced attendance at Friday’s game was 1,901.
“We’ve got to come in tomorrow, forget about tonight and stick to the game plan,” Vetterl said. “We’ve got to work on getting more shots to the net, traffic in front and we’ve got to get greasy. I think that’s the way we’re going to have to end this [seven-game losing] streak.”
The Ice get right back at it Saturday night when the Lethbridge Hurricanes (5-9-1-1) visit Western Financial Place.
“We’ve got to come here and compete,” Cable added. “We’ve got to forget about tonight. We’ve got to come here with a new mindset.. Come here and compete, play our game plan and I think we can be successful by doing this.”