Heated rivalry renewed as Rebels down Hitmen

SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

Jaynen Rissling has played one exhibition game in his WHL career.

And he already hates the Red Deer Rebels.

"They're the worst so far," the 16-year-old rookie quipped after last night's 4-3 shootout loss to the Rebels at Centennial Arenas.

It didn't take Rissling long to become baptised in the heated rivalry.

The young defenceman threw a big hit in the second period and then dropped the gloves with Rebels heavyweight Cody Esposito.

Rissling did more than hold his own, drawing rave reviews from the scratched veterans watching from the pressbox.

Hitmen coach Mike Williamson liked a lot of other aspects of the blueliner's game.

"He played very mature," said Williamson, who was also experiencing the Red Deer-Calgary rivalry for the first time. "He controlled the play, had a big hit and handled himself well when the gloves came off. He was poised out there, and he has a good head for the game."

Cody Sylvester scored a pair of goals for the Hitmen, while Baxtor Niziol chipped in with a single.

Cullen Morin answered with a pair for the visitors, including the equalizer with 47.5 seconds to play in regulation.

Adam Kambeitz scored Red Deer's first goal and Brett Ferguson notched the shootout winner with a nifty deke.

The battle for the backup goaltender's spot certainly wasn't solved last night.

Starter Michael Snider turned away 16 of 17 shots, while challenger Chase Komistek made seven stops on the nine shots he faced.

Williamson said the coaching staff will continue to look at the 17-year-old 'tenders over the next couple of weeks as starter Martin Jones heads off to NHL camp with the Los Angeles Kings.

"They both made some stops," Williamson said. "We're only one game in and they each have a half-game.

"With Jonesy gone, we're going to be able to see them both play quite a bit.

"So we should get a good feel for them."

The Rebels struck first in the pre-season opener when a loose puck showed up on Kambeitz's stick and the Coaldale, Alta., product beat Snider between the pads.

The home side drew even on Sylvester's powerplay goal early in the middle frame before Morin blasted a slapper past Komistek on the man advantage.

Hit parade

The Hitmen take on the Kootenay Ice tomorrow in Crowsnest Pass. They open the season Sept. 18 in Red Deer before welcoming the Rebels for the Sept. 27 home opener.

SCOTT.FISHER@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos