It wasn’t a win, but the Red Deer Rebels were much happier on Friday than they were on Wednesday.
Fresh off a 7-3 loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Rebel's Head Coach and GM Brent Sutter was hoping for a better effort and although they ended up on the wrong side of a 4-1 game, he’ll take it.
“I thought our intention was in the right place tonight. It was certainly a significant difference from our last game at home,” said Sutter.
Sutter had nothing good to say following their loss to the Hurricanes where he called out some of his top players, including the team’s point leader Michael Spacek.
So when Spacek’s third period give away, a couple of feet in front of the Rebels net, led to a Bronco’s goal just seconds after Lane Zablocki cut the lead to 2-1, there was a feeling the coach wouldn’t be too happy.
But that wasn’t the case, as Sutter praised his star forward.
“I thought Spac was better tonight. It’s probably his best game he’s had in a while,” said Sutter.
With 54 points, the Rebels are currently in third place in the Central Division and would qualify for the post season if it started today.
Calgary Hitmen are on the Rebel’s heals with 47 points and Sutter said he told his players after the Christmas break that if they expect to be in the playoffs, their inconsistency needs to stop.
“There has to be more focus, more discipline on how we play and they have to take more pride in our systems,” said Sutter.
“I told them if they don't, they’ll end up being a below .500 hockey team.”
There was a slight improvement with the Rebels special teams going 6-for-6 on the penalty kill and 1-for-3 on the power play.
Not something Sutter is overly proud of, but said he can’t complain with the absence of Rebel's Captain Adam Musil who was suspended one game after instigating a fight in the final five minutes of their game against the Hurricanes.
It was a homecoming for Sylvan Lake native Tyler Steenbergen who had a huge game for the Broncos scoring three goals in front of family and friends.
Rebels are right back at it Saturday night when they host the Regina Pats. Game time is 7 p.m.