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Angry Rebels on way to Kamloops

Red-hot Ingram honoured as WHL goaltender of week
February 16, 2016 7:20 P.M.
The Red Deer Rebels boarded their bus and headed west on Monday. They will play in Kamloops on Wednesday night. (Photo: Manny Aldea - @CalgaryAgent)

The Kamloops Blazers have to know they will have a tiger by the tail when they play host to the Red Deer Rebels on Wednesday night.
The Red Deer Rebels left home on Monday and headed out on a four-game swing into the B.C. Division. They opened last night (Tuesday) against the Kelowna Rockets, play here on Wednesday and then head north for a Friday-Saturday doubleheader with the Prince George Cougars.
The Rebels will be the host team for the 2016 Memorial Cup, but they don’t seem to have been playing like a championship contender of late.
They dropped their last two decisions before heading west, losing 4-1 to the Hitmen in Calgary on Friday and losing 5-2 to the visiting Tri-City Americans on Saturday.
After losing in Calgary, Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ owner, general manager and head coach, told Greg Meachem of the Red Deer Advocate:
“Our goalie was outstanding, but outside of him and (Michael) Spacek, we had a lot of bad hockey players here tonight. We didn’t play hard enough, we didn’t battle hard enough and the volume of our turnovers was terrible. It’s the same old story — teams are geared up to play us and if we’re not willing to match their intensity and their emotion level, then the result will be the same.
“We’ve beaten Calgary once this season and we haven’t beaten Lethbridge because of that . . . because we don’t play at the emotional level that you need to be at to be successful.”
Sutter also threw down the gauntlet to what should be his top line — Adam Helewka, Adam Musil and Jake DeBrusk.
“Those guys were terrible and that’s unacceptable . . . just not good enough,” Sutter said. “You can’t expect to be successful if you’re going to play like that.
“It’s hugely disappointing and it makes the coaching staff sick.”
One night later, the Rebels allowed four second-period goals in just under nine minutes in losing to Tri-City.
“For that stretch tonight we played like we did (Friday) night for 60 minutes,” Sutter told Meachem. “We were awful in our own zone, there was a lack of communication, we didn’t finish any checks and we were terrible around the front of our net.
“Outside of the span where they scored those four goals, our compete level and work ethic was where we like it to be and, to be quite honest, it was probably 50 per cent better than it was (Friday) night when we had no compete.
“But, again, you can’t give up four and five goals in games and thing you’re going to win. You have to shut it down, you have to defend better. You have to take more pride in that.”
Against the Americans, the Rebels also lost starting goaltender Rylan Toth with what is believed to be a high ankle sprain. Trevor Martin will be the go-to guy on this trip, with Dawson Weatherill having been brought in from the midget AAA Red Deer Chiefs to back him up.
Of course, goaltending hasn’t been an issue with the Blazers.
They have won their last three games and Connor Ingram has been the first star in each one of them. He had a 1.64 GAA and .955 save percentage in the three games and is the WHL’s nominee as the CHL’s goaltender of the week.
Ingram, a sophomore from Imperial, Sask., will make his 100th regular-season appearance in tonight’s game.
The Blazers (26-22-8) need victories, too, because Tri-City is putting on quite a charge as it attempts to get into a playoff spot. Kamloops holds the Western Conference’s last wild-card spot, with the Americans (27-26-3) having closed to within three points. Tri-City next plays Friday when it entertains the Everett Silvertips.
The Rebels (35-18-3) are second in the Central Division and appear headed for a first-round meeting with Calgary.
JUST NOTES: In the only meeting with Red Deer this season, the Blazers beat the visiting Rebels, 3-1. That was on Oct. 13 and was Kamloops’ first victory after an 0-6-0 start. . . . The Blazers again will be without D Nolan Kneen (knee). . . . The Rebels continue to be without F Conner Bleackley (fractured kneecap), who was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the NHL’s 2014 draft. He has yet to sign with the Avalanche. . . . Things won’t get any easier for the Blazers after Wednesday’s game. They will play three games in less than 48 hours, meeting the Victoria Royals on Friday and Saturday nights and the Vancouver Giants on Sunday, 5 p.m. . . . The Royals have the best record (14-4-3) in the WHL since Jan. 1. . . .
Former Blazers F Jordan DePape, in his third season with the U of Manitoba Bisons, has won the Canada West conference’s scoring title, with 41 points. In 28 games, he had 19 goals and 22 assists. He led the conference in goals and was fourth in assists. DePape, 23, is the first Manitoba skater to win the title since Canada West and GPAC merged for the 1985-86 season. The fourth-place Bisons will meet the fifth-place Calgary Dinos in the first round of playoffs.
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