In a Saturday night matchup, the Blades travelled to Red Deer for what blue-liner Adam Henry labelled a “must win game”. After dropping the first game of their Alberta road swing, the Blades came into Red Deer looking to right the ship – losers of five of their last six, the boys in blue were itching to leave town with two points.
In pre-game skate, coach Bob Woods said maximum effort had been a problem for the team. Too many games this season, the team has seemingly fallen asleep, giving up early goals, and forcing themselves to battle back. Could they turn things around in Red Deer against a Rebels team that had won seven of ten heading in?
Just as Woods warned against, things started poorly for the Blades. Only five minutes in, Grayson Pawlenchuk wired his 7th of the year past Alex Moodie. It was a tough goal for the Blades – it appeared that referee Kevin Webinger was in the wrong place at the wrong time, preventing the Blades from clearing the puck, and allowing the easy goal for Red Deer.
“As I’ve said in the past, we didn’t start strong” said Coach Bob Woods after the game. “it was a rough start, and we had to work from there”.
The Blades would’t stay down for long – near the end of the first, Blades captain Brett Stovin would knock a bouncing puck past Rylan Toth for his second of the year, tying it up at 1-1.
The second period didn’t start well for the Blades – just one minute in, Nick Zajac was hit with a five minute penalty and a game misconduct for a boarding hit on Haydn Fleury. Red Deer quickly capitalized – Evan Polei tipped his 9th of the year past Moodie, and the Rebels were once again up by a goal.
“The problem is we had the wrong guys taking penalties” said a frustrated Woods. “When your offensive guys are the ones in the box, you’re playing guys who don’t play big minutes than – its tough to score when the guys you rely on to put the puck in the net aren’t out there”.
“Obviously we need to cut down on the penalties” added Nelson Nogier. “We need to play smarter, be careful, we can’t give good teams advantages like that”.
Red Deer would head into the third with a two goal lead, as Justin Maxwell would tip a slapshot in for his 6th of the season.
Midway through the third, the Rebels would stretch their lead to three – with the Rebels shorthanded, Presten Kopeck would force a Moodie turnover behind the net, before wrapping around and stuffing it in the empty net, making it 4-1 for Red Deer. After trading late goals, it would ultimately end up 5-2 for the Rebels.
“We need to stay positive and go all out in Calgary on Sunday” said Cameron Hebig, who scored the final Blades goal. “Three games in three days is tough. Short shifts, give it all we have – nothing to save energy for after that game”.
The Blades wrap up their three day swing with a game in Calgary Sunday afternoon.