The Red Deer Rebels couldn’t handle success.
Then again, they haven’t experienced much in the way of positive results in recent weeks and that trend continued Wednesday as the Kootenay Ice pulled out a 4-3 WHL shootout win before a recorded gathering of 4,209 at the Centrium.
The home side led 3-1 early in the third period courtesy of a short-handed breakaway goal by Brooks Maxwell, but the visitors rallied with a pair of markers three minutes apart to force a scoreless overtime.
Sam Reinhart notched the lone goal of the shootout as Ice netminder Mackenzie Skapski denied Red Deer shooters Rhyse Dieno, Dominik Volek and Conner Bleackley.
“That’s not acceptable. You’re up 3-1 on a team ahead of you in the standings and you have to finish it off,” said Rebels veteran forward Lukas Sutter. “If we can draw a positive from it, we got a point, but we still gave up the extra point to a division rival.”
The Ice cut the deficit to 3-2 when Jaedon Descheneau notched his second of the game — and 13th of the season — at 8:16 of the third period, chipping a bouncing puck past Rebels netminder Patrik Bartosak. Ryan Chynoweth connected from a scramble three minutes later and the Ice survived a pair of late short-handed situations to get to overtime, where they were outshot 4-1 while killing a penalty for the first minute.
Despite being outshot 12-7 in the opening period, the Rebels were the more aggressive team as they banged bodies at will.
“You play against a team with guys like (Tim) Bozon, Descheneau and Reinhart . . . they’re tough to play against,” said Sutter. “They’re very skilled guys and you have to be hard on them. We did an all right job of that early, then kind of got away from it in the second and third and they took advantage of their opportunities.”
The Rebels led 2-0 at the first intermission on goals by Sutter, who buried a centering pass from Dieno, and Matt Bellerive, whose point shot beat a screened Skapski.
“Our first period was good, but I thought we took a step back in the second,” said Sutter.
Descheneau got Kootenay on the board 8:29 into the second period while stationed at the edge of the crease. From there, Maxwell potted his third of the season and the Ice rallied and eventually nailed down the victory.
“We didn’t close the deal,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “When you’re up two goals halfway through the third period you have to be able to shut down the opposition. But we got soft on some things. Their third goal was the result of a soft play . . . we turn it over and it’s in our net.”
The Rebels undoing, in the end, was their inability to capitalize on either of Kootenay’s late penalties despite applying decent pressure.
“We had the power play and got some opportunities and their goalie made some saves,” said the Rebels bench boss, whose club closed out a seven-game home stretch with a 1-5-0-1 record.
“Obviously it wasn’t a great homestand for us. To get just one win . . . that’s disappointing.”
The Rebels headed west following the game and were scheduled to practise in Abbotsford, B.C., this morning before starting a six-game road trip with Friday and Saturday games versus the Victoria Royals.
“We can get out on the road and hopefully find a consistent game where we play 60 minutes,” said Brent Sutter. “We can be together and spend some time together as a team.
“We’ll take the point tonight. We can look at that as a step in the first direction. We can also find another positive in that we were up in a hockey game with 10 minutes left, not behind like we have been. But we have to find a way to close the deal. It’s just something we have to continue to work with.”
• The Rebels were minus the services of rookie forward Adam Musil, who was fitted with a cast for a broken hand. Musil played through the injury for two weeks before being forced to sit out . . . Bartosak, who finished with 30 saves, was somewhat of a surprise starter. The veteran netminder was injured during last Friday’s loss to the visiting Saskatoon Blades and rookie Taz Burman was originally slated to get the call Wednesday . . . Skapski faced 28 shots while earning his sixth win of the season.