REGINA — Just when it seemed quite possible that the Red Deer Rebels would return home from their WHL Eastern Division road trip with a trio of setbacks versus no victories, Presten Kopeck came to the rescue.
Kopeck potted his second goal of the game 1:06 into overtime to lift the Rebels to a 4-3 win over the Regina Pats Sunday and snap a two-game losing streak that included 3-0 and 7-1 defeats to the Moose Jaw Warriors and Brandon Wheat Kings.
“We needed to respond because we didn’t play that well the first two games, certainly not to the level we had been playing at,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “We got a positive response tonight and we needed that. Everyone stepped up.”
The Rebels never trailed Sunday in front of 3,156 fans at the Brandt Centre. Red Deer forward Brooks Maxwell opened the scoring 3:13 in to the contest, Sam Steel pulled the Pats even seven minutes later, Kopeck shot the Rebels back in front with a power-play tally shortly after and Pats defenceman Kyle Burroughs connected 12 seconds into the second period.
Rebels starting netminder Taz Burman was pulled following the Pats’ second marker and was replaced by Rylan Toth.
“He’s a young guy and we’re trying to get him into some games, and he’s been fighting it,” said Sutter, in reference to Burman, who stopped two of the four shots he faced before being pulled.
“Tonight he fought it. The second goal was quickly into the second period from a wrist shot from the blueline on a rush. He (Burman) just missed it. But we’ll continue to work on his game and Taylor (Rebels goaltender coach Dakers) will spend time with him and work on what needs to be done.
“But Tother (Toth) played well on this trip. Last night (at Brandon) we were not very good and he took a lot of rubber and made some big saves.
“We have two young goalies and we have to patient with them.”
Adam Musil restored the Rebels’ lead a mere 70 seconds after Burroughs’ goal, but Pats’ overage import Pavel Padakin scored on the power play just two minutes later. From there, neither club scored until Kopeck closed the deal with his fourth goal of the season.
Burman and Toth combined to make 16 saves, while the Rebels directed 31 shots at Pats netminder Daniel Wapple.
The Rebels were coming off a 7-1 thumping to the host Brandon Wheat Kings Saturday night. The winners got a goal from each of Colton Waltz, Jayce Hawryluk, Ivan Provorov, Jesse Gabrielle, Rihards Bukharts, Nolan Patrick and Quintin Lisoway, while Musil broke Jordan Papirny’s shutout bid with a goal at 14:20 of the third period.
Toth stopped 25 of 31 shots for the Rebels, with Burman blocking two of three.
“We never played well in Moose Jaw, we were erratic,” said Sutter. “And last night (at Brandon) our intensity, emotion and work ethic dropped down from where we need it to be. Our team play, more importantly, wasn’t where we need it to be the first two games.
“We were better in all areas tonight. Our work ethic, discipline and structure to our game was much better.”
Rebels defenceman Haydn Fleury sat out Sunday with a lower-body injured he suffered the night before in Brandon.
“We’re hoping it’s not serious,” said Sutter.
The Rebels return to action this weekend with Friday and Saturday home dates with the Medicine Hat Tigers and Wheat Kings.