By Byron Hackett
Newcomer Austin Glover was the offensive catalyst Friday for the Red Deer Rebels as they started off 2017 on the right foot with a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Giants at the Centrium.
Glover scored early in the first on the power play and added two assists to earn second star honours in just his second game with Red Deer. The veteran forward said the victory was a real group effort.
“Thought it was a gutsy win,” he said. “Those close ones after Christmas are the ones you need and it was a good effort by the guys to get the win.”
The former Prince Albert Raider extended his point streak to 11 games with the first-period goal and his line of Evan Polei and Adam Musil were able to do all the damage for Red Deer on Friday.
“He’s a good player,” Rebels GM and head coach Brent Sutter said about Glover.
“I think it helps him too when he can play with two big guys like Evan and Musil. He’s smart and he’s got some savy with the puck. I thought his compete level was really good tonight. Just a smart player. When he plays like that for us, he’s really going to help us.”
Musil, along with Czech Republic teammate Michael Spacek and Danish goalie Lasse Petersen all returned from the World Juniors Championships for the Rebels and each made their mark on the evening.
Petersen had a couple wow-moments, including a spectacular toe save on a two-on-one to keep it a 1-0 game in the first period.
“That one in the first period was pretty ridiculous, we’re going to be seeing that for a little while. He played really well, he held us in there. There were some times where we were in our end for a bit and he really bailed us out,” Glover added
For the Rebels captain it was the go-ahead goal in the second period where he fired a rocket of a wrist shot past Giants’ netminder Ryan Kubic.
Radovan Bondra tied the game for Vancouver with 11:20 remaining in the second period, before Alexander Alexeyev scored his third goal of the year just 2:24 into the third on a beautiful shot over Kubic’s glove from just inside the faceoff circle.
It was Alexeyev’s first career game-winning goal and the marker earned the 2018 NHL Draft eligable defenseman first star honours in the win.
Sutter added the win was just his team being able to capitalize on an opportunity.
“It was a tough game,” Sutter said.
“Both teams play a very similar systems and structure and it was a tight game. Both goalies made some big saves. It was kind of going into the third there, hopefully you get a break and we were able to capitalize on it.”
Forward Brandon Hagel was a game-time decision and after starting the first period told the coaching staff he wasn’t able to continue. Sutter said it’s a nagging injury and something they’ll have to keep an eye on.
“It’s been something that’s been bothering him,” Sutter said. “He hurt it last game and he thought he could play with it, said it felt good this morning and good in warm-up. Thought he could play, as the game went on it tightened up on him again. It’s a muscle thing and we just have to get him through it.”
The Rebels are back on the ice Saturday against central division rival Lethbridge Hurricanes.