Blades 4 Rebels 3 (OT)
It was a real Jekyll and Hyde performance from the Red Deer Rebels Friday.
For 25 minutes to start the night, the Rebels couldn’t stay out of the penalty box, taking six minor penalties over that stretch.
Down 3-2 in the third, the Rebels turned it up a notch, tied the game at three and outshot the Blades 12-2 in the frame but were unable to find the equalizer.
A missed assignment off a faceoff late in overtime led to a 2-on-1, where Tristen Robins hit Chase Wouters and the Blades’ captain buried on Byron Fancy to clinch the 4-3 victory.
“We knew what they were going to do off the draw in overtime, both our centre iceman and winger, they just didn’t stay with their guys. Anyway, we’ll take the point and move on,” said Rebels GM/ head coach Brent Sutter.
The loss certainly signaled there is more polishing to do for a Rebels group that still has an outside shot at a playoff spot, with the trade deadline looming next Friday. Sutter said they simply can’t be a team that coasts through half a game and expects to skill their way to victory.
“We were like two different teams. I wasn’t happy with the first half of the game. Way too many minor penalties. We had taken six minor penalties in the first 25 minutes of the game. It takes you out of the flow and momentum,” Sutter said.
“We had to play hard for the last 20 to be able to get a point. It’s that first half, we can’t take that many penalties and they were penalties that were avoidable. Points are big for us now and we can’t be beating ourselves and tonight we beat ourselves out of a point… that’s a good team, they played well, but we had a heckuva a third to get ourselves a point.”
Arshdeep Bains opened the scoring for the Rebels 6:58 into the first, jumping on a loose puck in front of Nolan Maier on the power play. On the play, in his 200th career WHL game, Chris Douglas picked up an assist.
Scott Walford buried the equalizer five minutes later, on the first of five Blades’ power plays in the opening frame. He scored just 14 seconds into a Ben King cross-checking minor.
Josh Tarzwell was credited with the Rebels’ second goal 3:32 into the second, a fortunate bounce off Walford, Maier and in. It was the 18th of the year for the Red Deer product.
The Blades responded 90 seconds later, on their sixth power play of the evening. Nolan Kneen buried 10 seconds into the advantage, tying the game at two.
Kyle Crnkovic put the Blades ahead with 4:13 left in the frame. He picked up a rebound and from a sharp angle beat Byron Fancy.
Just under two minutes into the third, Bains struck for his second of the night to tie the game. Rebels captain Dawson Barteaux drove with and flipped a pass in front, and Bains once again jumped on a loose puck for his 13th goal of the year.
The Rebels poured on the pressure in the third, but Maier stood tall and made 11 saves in the final frame. He finished the night with 30 saves, while Byron Fancy had 22.
Red Deer is back home Saturday night when they host the Moose Jaw Warriors, before embarking on a five-game road trip through Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Three Stars: Arshdeep Bains (1), Scott Walford (2), Dawson Barteaux.
Defenceman Ethan Sakowich was named the Rebels player of the Month for December Friday. The 20-year-old blueliner had one goal and four assists in the month.
Also Friday, Rebels defenceman Christoffer Sedoff was named to Team White for the upcoming CHL/ Top Prospects Game on Jan. 16 in Hamilton, Ont.