Dion haunts Hitmen

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

The Red Deer Rebels are like a bad cold that just won't go away.

The pesky club spoiled the Calgary Hitmen's home opener yesterday at the 'Dome, earning a 2-2 tie in front of 8,841 fans.

Just like they did in a 5-4 season-opening overtime win Friday night, the Rebels fought back, getting a third-period goal from Calgary Flames prospect Dion Phaneuf with 4:11 left in the game to salvage a draw.

"It's only two games into the season but (it's good to) get three points in a weekend against your Number One rival," said Rebels bench boss Brent Sutter, whose club sits at 1-0-1.

On Friday, the Hitmen blew a three-goal lead.

Yesterday, they were up 2-0 after the opening frame but couldn't seal the deal.

The Hitmen still felt they improved upon their Friday night effort.

"We thought we got better from the first game in Game 2 here and we look forward to getting better next game," said Hitmen co-coach Dean Evason.

The Hitmen outshot their Central Division rival 31-19 and it looked like it would be a long game for the Rebels after Calgary's Ryan Getzlaf opened the scoring at 1:16 of the first.

The Hitmen captain put a great inside-out move on Phaneuf at the Rebels blueline, then launched a quick wrist shot that found the far side of Gerry Festa's net.

Then it was Getzlaf again, this time with a shorthanded tally, late in the period.

But the Hitmen's momentum was short-lived after Rebels captain Colin Fraser scored 1:34 into the second, going top shelf from in close on Hitmen goalie Scott Bowles.

That was the only goal of the second, setting the stage for Phaneuf's tying tally. A failed Hitmen clearing attempt went right onto Phaneuf's stick and his screened shot beat Bowles.

"I thought we played a little better than in the first game and that's what we've got to do ... That one mental breakdown cost us the game," said Getzlaf.

Phaneuf continues to impress and now has three goals in two games, plus an assist on Friday's overtime winner. He received a ton of ice time, mostly against Calgary's top line of Getzlaf, Andrew Ladd and Roman Tomanek.

"He's played well but you shouldn't expect anything less from him," said Sutter.

HIT PARADE: Hitmen F Konstantin Pushkarev, who arrived in Calgary Saturday, was a healthy scratch but should be in the lineup Wednesday when Calgary takes on the Lethbridge Hurricanes (Saddledome, 7 p.m.) ... F Paul Gentile, F Isaac Reid, F Aaron Roberge and F Cody McMullin were scratched from the Hitmen lineup.


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