For the second night in succession the Red Deer Rebels were involved in a game-deciding skills competition Saturday at the Enmax Centrium.
And for the second night in succession the required shootout got into double figures in terms of participants. But unlike Friday’s outcome, a 2-1 loss to the Victoria Royals, the Rebels came out on the good side when Adam Musil, the 18th shooter, placed a puck behind Regina Pats goalie Daniel Wapple for a 4-3 WHL victory.
“I usually don’t go into the shootout,” said Musil, who never got the call in Friday’s 14-player competition. “I have one move that I do and that’s about it. It worked out tonight and I’m glad.”
For a second straight game, the Rebels stumbled out of the chute and fell behind just 2:02 in when Taylor Cooper circled the Red Deer net, then whirled and shot from the faceoff circle and caught the far corner behind a screened Rebels netminder Taz Burman.
Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter called a timeout roughly two minutes later to lecture his troops and Musil notched his 11th of the season at 6:37 with a shot from the left faceoff circle that beat Wapple to the short side.
The Rebels never trailed the rest of the way, as defenceman Colton Bobyk cashed a two-on-one feed from Brooks Maxwell 78 seconds after Bobyk connected, and Presten Kopeck pushed the lead to 3-1 with a well-aimed wrist shot from the top of the circle. Burman drew an assist on the goal, his first point of the season.
But the Pats wouldn’t go quietly, and in fact pulled to within one on Adam Brooks’ short-handed marker midway through the second period — a backhand shot from an angle — and drew even 8:44 into the third stanza as Cooper potted his second of the night and 18th of the season from a scramble.
The clubs were back and forth through a scoreless overtime before Musil sealed the deal in the shootout.
“Good teams don’t lose twice in a row. We battled back and found a way to win” said Musil. “It wasn’t the (type) of game we wanted to play, but we found a way. Good teams find a way to win and that’s absolutely what we did.”
Wapple made 32 saves through 65 minutes, while Burman blocked 26 shots. The Rebels goalie then turned back all nine shooters he faced in his second shootout win of the season.
“He’s been awesome (in shootouts),” said Sutter. “He stopped nine shooters tonight.
“ In the last two nights we’re one-for-16 in the shootout so we’re not doing too bad with that one,” joked the Rebels boss. “We were just asking the kids who would have shot next (if Musil hadn’t ended the game). I said maybe they’ll make a rule that when it gets to a certain point maybe they’ll let the coaches shoot.”
All chuckles aside, the victory marked the end of a successful four-games-in-five-nights grind in which the Rebels posted three wins and lost a point to the Royals.
“It was a tough week and to get seven out of eight points . . . we’ll take that,” said Sutter. “Tonight we knew we were going to be playing a good team. They’re a quick team and they’re obviously very well-coached. We had to battle and scratch and claw for everything we got and it was a big two points.”
Both coaches, Sutter and Pats bench boss John Paddock, were unimpressed with the officiating of referees Mike Campbell and Fraser Lawrence, particularly down the stretch. Both clubs were the victims of questionable calls, including a goaltender interference penalty on Rebels forward Evan Polei when he was cross-checked into Wapple.
“The most disappointing part of the whole game, really, was the last 10 minutes . . . for both teams,” said Sutter. “But we won’t get into that one.”
The Rebels are idle until Saturday when the Vancouver Giants visit the Centrium.
“We move on, we get a week off until we play again,” said Sutter. “It was a big win tonight and a big four-game set for us. We were able to gain some ground on the teams behind us, so it was huge.”
The Rebels moved two points past the Pats and into third place in the Eastern Conference. Red Deer sits second in the Central Division, five points ahead of the third-place Calgary Hitmen, who downed the visiting Pats 5-2 Sunday afternoon.
In Sunday’s other WHL game, Victoria edged the Oil Kings 4-3 at Edmonton.