PRINCE ALBERT — The Red Deer Rebels waited until precisely the last second Saturday to pull out a single point in their Western Hockey League clash with the host Prince Albert Raiders.
With netminder Patrik Bartosak on the bench and the Rebels applying heavy pressure, defenceman Haydn Fleury scored at 19:59 of the third period to send the game to overtime. Unfortunately for the visitors, rearguard Josh Morrissey connected 1:58 into the extra session to give the Raiders a 4-3 victory before a gathering of 2,899 at the Art Hauser Centre, finishing off a three-way passing play with a shot that deflected off the post and past Bartosak.
The Rebels were assessed all three penalties in the opening period and were outshot 18-6 as a result, but got a last-minute goal from Brooks Maxwell to salvage a 1-1 draw at the intermission. Morrissey scored for the Raiders.
“We had a good start to the game but the penalties put us on our heels and they (Raiders) gained some momentum on that,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “Then they came at us pretty hard in the second period.”
The Raiders opened up a 3-1 lead with second-period markers from Reid Gardiner and Mark McNeill, but Bartosak came up with a series of solid saves and allowed the Rebels to mount a third-period comeback.
“We were on our heels in the second period and Patty obviously played pretty well,” said Sutter. “In the third we got going again. We played hard and found a way to get a point.
“Our third period was certainly our best of the night, and not just because we came back and evened it up, but because of the way we played . . . because of the urgency we had in the third.”
Dominik Volek, who joined the Rebels just after Christmas, notched his fifth goal of the season to bring the visitors to within one at 11:57 of the third period, setting the stage for Fleury’s extra-late marker, his third of the season.
The Rebels returned to Red Deer early Sunday and will play host to the defending WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings Thursday at 7 p.m.
The Prince George Cougars will visit the Centrium for a 7:30 p.m. contest Saturday and the Rebels will visit the Medicine Hat Tigers the following evening.
Red Deer sits fourth in the Eastern Conference, five points clear of the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
l Cody Thiel is expected to return to the Red Deer lineup Thursday after missing a handful of games with a concussion, while forward Cory Millette suffered a similar injury in a 5-2 loss Wednesday at Swift Current and is out indefinitely.
Meanwhile, Christian Stockl is expected back Thursday after missing two games with a groin injury and defenceman Riley Boomgaarden will be out another three to four weeks with a lower body injury.