Sutter spoils Hitmen hopes

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:48 AM ET

RED DEER -- The Red Deer Rebels enjoyed their roles as the party poopers.

Feeling snubbed after not receiving an invitation to the post-season festivities, the Rebels took great pride in making Calgary's dance card a little less attractive.

Red Deer rookie Brandon Sutter scored the shootout winner as the Rebels beat the Hitmen 2-1 at the Centrium last night.

The regular-season finale setback erased any hopes the Hitmen had of finishing atop the Central Division.

They will settle for second place and face the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the opening round next weekend. Calgary travels to Lethbridge for Games 1 and 2 Friday and Saturday.

"We came up a little short of the playoffs," said Sutter, whose club will watch the playoffs for the second time in franchise history (they also missed the post-season in 1995).

"But they're our number one rival."

Sutter threw in a few extra fist pumps to taunt Hitmen starter Justin Pogge after ripping a wrister in off the crossbar.

"It was just a little bit of revenge against him," Sutter said. "That was fun."

The Hitmen came out flat against a Rebels club stocked with youngsters who were looking to make an impression before next year's training camp. Red Deer boss Brent Sutter had seven regulars in the pressbox.

Hitmen GM/head coach Kelly Kisio was disgusted with his squad's effort against the rookie-laden Rebels.

"It shouldn't have been tough," Kisio bristled. "We were playing for first place. We had some passengers again tonight and they were some of our key guys. When that happens, you don't deserve to win."

Red Deer 'tender James Reimer stopped 38 shots. Ryan Letts, with his second of the season, was the only Hitmen player to find the twine.

Pogge stopped 28 shots and came up one win shy of Alexander Fomitchev's franchise record of 39 (set in 1998-99). Pierre-Paul Lamoureux also picked up his second of the season during regulation time.

Ryan White, who had a goal wiped out after the ref ruled he had batted it in with a high stick, said it was frustrating to bow out of the first-place battle in a shootout.

"We just couldn't get the bounces," White said. "And we got outworked at times. That's not the effort we wanted tonight. I'm sure there's better ways to lose but we should have taken care of business in 60 minutes."

The sophomore centre said the club can now focus it's attention on the Hurricanes.

- - -

RED DEER REBELS: 2

CALGARY HITMEN: 1

SHOOTOUT


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