RED DEER -- The Rebels had their studs. But the Hitmen, missing their two top guns, were anything but duds. With Ryan Getzlaf out with a sore elbow and Andrew Ladd missing the game due to a late flight, few would have given the Hitmen a fighting chance last night against a Rebels lineup re-stocked with world junior stars.
But the Hitmen exploded for four unanswered second-period goals and got big-time goaltending from Scott Bowles en route to a 4-1 win at the Centrium.
Ryan White, Shaun Landolt, Konstantin Pushkarev and Riley Merkley lit the lamp in the middle frame as Calgary (18-14-6-2) moved into a third-place tie with the Rebels in the Central Division.
World junior gold-medallist Colin Fraser's third-period marker was the only puck to elude Bowles, who was outstanding in making 31 saves.
Bowles was particularly sharp in the final stanza when Red Deer owned a 15-1 advantage on the shot clock. And that was after flat out robbing Ty Morris in the second period.
"That glove save he made (off Morris) was unbelievable," Merkley said. "If he keeps playing like that, we're going to win a lot of games."
Bowles said the highlight-reel stop was a big confidence booster.
"I think my heart stopped for three or four seconds when I was down on my butt looking up at him," Bowles said with a laugh. "I just kind of threw the glove up there and he shot it in there."
Without Getzlaf and Ladd, Merkley said the Hitmen needed to play tough defence.
"Originally, we thought both of them might be playing but we knew we could play well without those guys," Merkley said.
"We've done it before. We just kept it simple. It was probably a boring game to watch but it was effective."
White got the party started when he sent a wrister past Gerry Festa at 5:18 of the second.
The Hitmen travel to Kootenay tonight before returning home tomorrow against Swift Current (5 p.m., 'Dome).
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CALGARY HITMEN: 4
RED DEER REBELS: 1