Tigers 3 Rebels 2 (OT)
MEDICINE HAT — For the Red Deer Rebels, it was more Medicine Hat misery.
The Rebels, for whatever reason, had managed just one Western Hockey League win over the Medicine Hat Tigers in five meetings heading into Friday’s final regular-season meeting of the clubs. Their season record versus the Tigers now stands at 1-5 following a 3-2 overtime loss before 4,006 fans at the Arena.
Linden Vey, the league’s leading scorer, potted the winner with a mere 12 seconds remaining in the five-minute, four-on-four session.
“It was disappointing, for sure,” said Rebels head coach/VP of hockey operations Jesse Wallin.
“The goal came off a tough turnover. We had full possession of the puck, tried to move it up the ice and turned it over in the neutral zone. It came back the other way and the leading scorer in the league made no mistake.
“It’s disappointing that way, but certainly I thought we played very well. I liked our effort and compete level and it was a game that could have gone either way.”
This was a contest that was basically dead-even, with both teams getting 32 shots on goal.
“It was a hell of a game, a playoff-type game for sure . . . very intense, high-paced and tight-checking,” said Wallin.
After a 0-0 opening frame, Vey opened the scoring with a late second-period power play goal. Andrej Kudrna pulled the Rebels even with an extra-man marker 2:29 into the third period, but Reid Petryk restored the Tigers’ lead just 25 seconds later.
The Rebels, however, persisted and got another power-play marker from John Persson at 10:48.
That tally, as it turned out, forced overtime.
The Rebels were two-for-four with a man advantage, while the Tigers were one-for-seven. Wallin wasn’t tickled with the disparity in penalties, and was mostly bothered with the infractions referees Devin Klein and Curtis Howe did not call on the hosts.
“No question, I thought we responded well to some adversity,” said Wallin.
“The officiating left a little to be desired. We had to fight our way through some penalties in the second period, and we also trailed twice in the game. The goal they scored right after we tied the game could have been deflating, but the guys responded well.
“They dug in and found a way to score again to even it up. I thought we showed a lot of jam in getting back into the game and fighting through some adversity as far as (penalty) calls, as well.”
Rebels forward Byron Froese ended up in the Tigers net in the second period after being mugged while attempting to get a shot off, and Vey broke Brett Ferguson’s stick with a two-handed slash on the final shift of the third period. Neither play resulted in a penalty to Medicine Hat.
“I didn’t have issues with some of the calls against us, but I certainly felt there was a double standard on the ice,” said Wallin.
“Still, I thought we did a good job of fighting through that.”
Tyler Bunz stopped 30 shots for the Tigers and was named first star of the game.
The second and third stars were Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who assisted on two Red Deer goals, and Vey.
Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves for the Rebels, who host the Swift Current Broncos tonight at 7:30 p.m. and remain two points ahead of the Tigers in the race for second place in both the Central Division and the Eastern Conference. Both teams have four regular-season games left.