Rebels 2 Royals 1 (SO)
Shades of Cam Ward.
On a night when the Red Deer Rebels might have been satisfied with snaring a single point, netminder Patrik Bartosak evoked images of Ward — the best goalie to ever wear a Rebels jersey — and got them a pair.
Bartosak turned aside 44 shots through regulation time and the extra five minutes Friday, then foiled all three Royals attempts in a shootout as the Rebels prevailed 2-1 in a WHL contest before a boisterous gathering of 6,639 at the Centrium.
“It was a great game for me,” said Bartosak, after posting his 25th win of the season with a standout performance.
“Our D-men helped me a lot in the defensive zone. I could see almost every shot and if I didn’t see it, it hit me. So it was a good night. We had some lucky bounces tonight and I think the boys really played hard in the defensive zone and helped me a lot.”
Bartosak stopped all 11 shots he faced in the opening frame and was flawless while turning aside 20 more in the second period.
The visitors finally broke through when Tim Traber tipped a bouncing puck past Bartosak 4:28 into the third period, the puck trickling just over the line.
The Rebels, outplayed through the second period and up to that point in the third, gradually gained momentum and when Traber was assessed a double minor, they finally cashed in.
Mathew Dumba got the tying goal at 17:29 with just seconds remaining in Traber’s double minor, poking the puck past Royals netminder Patrik Polivka from the side of the net. The puck barely crossed the line and the referees called on video replay to confirm the goal.
Bartosak, through force of habit, admitted he was nervous during the five-minute overtime period, during which the Royals were forced to kill a boarding penalty to Steven Hodges.
“I’ve said it before — I hate overtimes,” said Bartosak. “Every shot that goes on me in overtime is very dangerous because I’m shaky and stuff.
“But when it comes to shootouts, I’m very confident and I’m sure we have a pretty good chance to win every time we go there.”
Indeed, Bartosak foiled all three Royals shooters — Logan Nelson, Brandon Magee and Hodges — he faced, while Rhyse Dieno deked Polivka to give the Rebels the only shootout goal they needed.
The victory capped a difficult day for the Rebels, a day during which they and hundreds of others attended the funeral of 17-year-old Kale Williams, the son of team vice-president of marketing and sales Dean Williams and a close friend of the players.
“Obviously, it’s been an emotional few days for a lot of people in the community, for our hockey team and our staff,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter.
“But full marks to the kids. They stayed with it and showed a lot of resiliency tonight. They just kept working and found a way to tie it, and to win the game in a shootout just puts an exclamation mark on it.
“I’m proud of these kids. Really, I don’t have any words for it.”
As for Bartosak’s brilliance . . .
“It’s not like we should be surprised,” said Sutter. “He’s been outstanding for us this season and tonight he played extremely well.
“I wasn’t sure how we’d get through this game. We hit a wall halfway through, which shouldn’t have been a surprise considering the circumstances, but Patty stood tall and kept us in it.
“It’s a huge win, but mostly a huge victory for a lot of people in the community and the Williams family. Kudos to the kids for hanging tough.”
The Rebels are idle until Tuesday when they host the Regina Pats.
° Advocate’s three stars: (1) Bartosak . . . 44 saves, enough said; (2) Polivka . . . Royals netminder was solid himself, turning aside 38 shots; (3) Dumba . . . His 13th goal of the season forced overtime.