It was an improvement on Saturday night, but not the ideal end for the Red Deer Rebels as they dropped their final game of the WHL regular season 5-4 in overtime to the Edmonton Oil Kings.
The Rebels led 4-2 with under two minutes to play, but allowed a power play goal with 1:31 remaining and the Oil Kings net empty, then the tying goal 30 seconds after with the Edmonton goalie out for the extra attacker again.
“I thought our purpose was good. I thought we worked, I thought we battled,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said.
”At the end of the game, last three minutes you’re on a power play, you have to know who your personnel is and who is taking who on the ice. We ended up taking the wrong guys and we end up with too many men on the ice and then they score on that. They pull their goalie again, probably a situation where certain guys are caught out there in a normal situation where they may not be on the ice. We got caught with that.”
Oil Kings forward Ethan Cap opened the scoring short handed on a bad turnover by Rebels defenceman Jared Freadrich in the first period. Tyson Gruninger opened up a 2-0 lead on his third goal of the season in the second.
Evan Polei gave the Rebels life with his 33rd goal of the year, a laser from just inside the face off circle at 9:37 of the second.
Rebels forward Brandon Hagel scored a power play goal with 42 seconds left in the middle frame. Zablocki drove wide and fired the puck across the crease to the Buffalo Sabres draft pick who was streaking toward the net.
Hagel added his 31st goal of the year on a great individual effort, poking the puck past two Edmonton defenders and out racing Oil Kings’ goalie Patrick Dea to the puck before sliding it five hole.
Austin Glover made it 4-2 Rebels with 5:43 left, when he picked up a rebound and buried it past Dea. Hagel assisted on the goal, and finished the game with four points.
It was the third time this week Hagel had a four-point game and the fourth time in his last six he’s had two goals.
After a 4-1 loss Saturday at home, Sutter considered Sunday a much better way to finish the year.
“I thought in the first period we were a little hesitant but I still thought our purpose was right. There was at least try there. Much better than it was last night,” he said.
“In the second I thought we started taking the game over. In the third we were really good. We didn’t give up much in the third and we were smart. Last three minutes on the power play you have to nail that down. It’s disappointing in the sense where you have to lock that in.”
Riley Lamb was solid in net for the Rebels with 32 saves on 37 shots.
The Rebels will have the week off before they begin their first round WHL playoff series with Lethbridge.
“Now the season is over,” Sutter said. “Now it’s a whole new season starting next weekend and we have to get ready for it.”