Hitmen hapless

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

RED DEER -- They were selfish, undisciplined and devoid of emotion.

As a result, the Calgary Hitmen likely played themselves out of any chance they had at top spot in the Central Division.

The Hitmen gave up seven powerplays, including a staggering trio of 5-on-3s, in a 4-3 loss to the struggling Red Deer Rebels.

And to make matters worse, star goaltender Justin Pogge was tied to the bench because he broke an unspecified team rule.

"He would have played today, except there was a team violation," Hitmen GM/coach Kelly Kisio said. "He was selfish and thought about himself and not about the team."

Backup Daniel Spence, who has played sparingly this season, didn't help his own cause in the third period.

With the provincial rivals locked at three and the Rebels on the powerplay, Spence was whistled for a slashing penalty.

Red Deer veteran Brett Sutter potted the game-winner on the ensuing 5-on-3.

"Right from the goalie out, there was a lot of selfish play tonight," Kisio said. "There were some iffy efforts on a lot of guys' parts."

The Hitmen powerplay was brutal once again, scoring on one of 10 opportunities.

Freddie Pettersson, Karl Alzner and Brodie Dupont scored for Calgary (45-18-2-2), which dropped its third straight and trails Medicine Hat by three points for top spot. The Tigers have a game in hand.

The Hitmen are just two points ahead of Moose Jaw in the race for second place and home-ice advantage in the second round, in the Eastern Conference.

Calgary got off to a sluggish start for the third consecutive outing, largely due to a lack of discipline. The visitors surrendered four first-period powerplays and the Rebels, who outshot Calgary 8-5 in the opening 20 minutes, converted on a 5-on-3 at the 7:52 mark when Ted Vandermeer scored.

The Hitmen woke up in the middle frame and pounded 20 pucks on Rebels starter James Reimer.

Pettersson, who showed tremendous jump, got Calgary started 4:18 in but Tanner Gillies restored the Rebels lead at the midpoint. Alzner brought the Hitmen even again when his point shot deflected off two players in front of Reimer.

Dupont gave the Hitmen their first lead on the powerplay. Pettersson did all the work, going coast-to-coast before sliding a goalmouth pass to Dupont for his team-leading 27th of the campaign.

But any momentum the visitors had was snuffed out 27 seconds later when Devon LeBlanc beat Spence with a long-range wrister to tie it at three after two periods.

HIT PARADE: The three stars were Rebels G James Reimer, Hitmen RW Freddie Pettersson and Rebels LW Devon LeBlanc ... The Hitmen host Prince Albert tonight (7 p.m.) and the Regina Pats Friday (7 p.m.).


Videos

Photos