Rebels 2 Ice 1 (SO)
CRANBROOK — The Red Deer Rebels haven’t been great in Western Hockey League games this season that have extended beyond 60 minutes.
No wonder then that the team felt a bit of celebratory relief Friday night following a 2-1 shootout win over the Kootenay Ice before 2,200 fans.
“We passed cigars around in the dressing room because we won in a shootout,” joked Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, whose club was a measly 5-10 in overtime/shootout games this season prior to Friday’s conquest.
A first-period goal by Red Deer veteran forward Brooks Maxwell stood up until Levi Cable drew the Ice even at 15:57 of the third period.
The clubs then battled through a scoreless overtime frame before Maxwell and Riley Sheen beat Kootenay netminder Wyatt Hoflin in the shootout. Jaedon Descheneau, the first Ice shooter, put a puck behind Rebels netminder Rylan Toth, who then denied Tim Bozon and Sam Reinhart.
“In the first period we were kind of on our heels a bit,” said Sutter, in reference to his team being outshot 17-8 over the first 20 minutes. “But we got going and were pretty good the last two periods.
“It’s too bad we gave up the late goal. We let their guy go through the neutral zone and they were able to get an odd-man rush and capitalize on it. But we played well again the last four minutes and were good in overtime too.”
In the end, Toth was the saving grace for the Rebels, his first game back since being merely average in a 4-0 loss Tuesday at Medicine Hat. Taz Burman got the start in the Red Deer net Wednesday at Swift Current and was excellent in a 6-2 win over the Broncos.
“Tother played really well, he had a good bounce-back game. He was really solid tonight,” said Sutter. “The last two games our goaltending has been very good. Burms was good in Swift Current and Tother was very good tonight.”
The Rebels returned home from their 2-1 road trip early this morning and host the Regina Pats tonight at 7 p.m.
“It’s a tough trip, especially having to come back and get right back at it with a home game 24 hours later,” said Sutter. “There’s a lot of travel, including Swift Current to here (Cranbrook) and back home again and the team we’re playing tomorrow are sitting and waiting for us.
“They also played tonight (with the Pats posting a 6-4 win over the host Edmonton Oil Kings) but they have a short trek to Red Deer. But it is what it is. You have a schedule and we just have to play a smart game tomorrow night. We have to be a disciplined team and play the right way.”
• Toth, selected as the second star of the game — sandwiched between first and third stars Cable and Hoflin — made 30 saves, while the Rebels directed 22 shots at the Kootenay net . . . Red Deer was zero-for-two on the power play; Kootenay was zero-for-four . . . Red Deer’s win all but sealed third place in the Central Division. The fourth-place Ice are eight points back of the Rebels with each team having seven regular-season games remaining.