The Bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels nearly earned a win against one of the top Alberta Bantam AAA Hockey League teams at the Collicutt on Saturday.
They settled for a 2-2 tie against the powerhouse Airdrie Xtreme, but held a 2-1 lead until the visitors tied it with their goalie pulled and six seconds remaining in the game.
“Our compete level was really good. We stepped it up in the second and third. We were a little shell shocked in the first with some speed. We had some chances and they had their chances, but both goalies played pretty good,” head coach Justin Jarmolicz said.
Trailing 1-0 at the start of the third period Saturday, defenceman Tristan Baumung fired a wrist shot home on the power play to the the game at one. Red Deer took the lead on turnover in the slot, that forward Foxx Doell buried with under six minutes to play.
Colby Wright was stellar between the pipes for Red Deer in the tie and Jarmolicz said that’s been one of their strengths early on this season.
“He’s steady, both guys have been real good. Their goals against average are both under two. We have a couple good players back there and it’s been good for us,” Jarmolicz said.
Red Deer moved to 3-0-2 on the year with the tie, a mark that the head coach is proud of, especially considering the way his team has battled to start the year.
“Bit of a lunchbox team. We really work hard all the time which is nice. We’ve got some size, some grit and the boys push it. We’re hard to play against for all 60 minutes. We push the pace,” Jarmolicz said.
The Rebels saw three of their top players get drafted in last summer’s WHL Bantam Draft including Ronan Seeley, Brett Meerman and Noah Danielson, but the head coach thinks with some hard work the team will come along as collective unit this season.
“We have three our four guys that once they get going are going to be real high-end. We may not have that luxury early, but we sure compete as a team. You don’t want to rely on one or two guys,” he said.
They’re back on the ice Sunday at home against the Camrose Red Wings with puck drop set for 2:15 p.m.