CRANBROOK — The Kootenay Ice have recorded a Western Hockey League low six wins this season, but are capable of throwing a scare into the top teams.
The Red Deer Rebels were reminded of that Tuesday and needed a pair of late goals to secure a 4-2 victory over the Ice before 1,794 fans at Western Financial Place.
“It was a battle and a strange game in a lot of ways. There were some strange goals,” said Red Deer GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “Their second goal was a lucky break for them and on our second goal early in the third period we got a lucky break.”
Sutter was referring to Rebels captain Wyatt Johnson’s marker a mere 10 seconds into the final frame that gave the visitors a 2-1 lead, then a goal from Dallas Hines that evened the count 13 minutes later.
Colton Bobyk notched the winner at 15:45 and Evan Polei, with his 11th of the season, added insurance in the final minute. Rebels forward Adam Musil opened the scoring at 4:12 of the second period and Austin Wellsby replied for the Ice late in the middle stanza.
Rebels netminder Rylan Toth, who earned second-star honours, made 29 saves, two more than Kootenay stopper Wyatt Hoflin in the tightly-played contest.
“We worked and competed and so did they,” said Sutter. “I thought both teams played hard. There are no easy games in this league, you have to play hard.
“We’re without three very good defencemen, but we can’t use that as an excuse,” added Sutter, in reference to Kayle Doetzel and Josh Mahura, both injured, and Haydn Fleury, who is with the Canadian national junior team. “The guys who are playing have to continue to improve and get better.
“I thought that we were good in a lot of areas tonight, and we battled. We found a way to win on the road and that’s what matters.”
Bobyk picked up a pair of assists to finish the evening with three points and was named third star of the game.
“He and (fellow defenceman Nelson Nogier) were steady, they were both solid,” said Sutter.
Forward Austin Adamson, who underwent hip surgery in the summer, made his 2015-16 Rebels debut Tuesday and drew praise from Sutter.
“He played well for it being his first game back,” said Sutter. “I thought he and his linemates Jeff de Wit and Reese Johnson were all pretty solid tonight.”
The Rebels will close out the pre-Christmas portion of their schedule with home games Friday (8 p.m.) and Saturday versus the Ice and the Lethbridge Hurricanes.