Those inside the Peavey Mart Centrium for the Red Deer Rebels game Friday night got their money’s worth.
There was plenty of offence and then some more as the Rebels took down the Prince George Cougars 8-5.
Despite that, the biggest storyline was the return of Ben King who has been out of the lineup for 31 games since October. It was a long road for King who had surgery on a high-ankle sprain but he was just happy to be back.
“I felt better than expected,” King said. “My legs are good. I got them under me early and then I just kind of played my game, played as hard as I could… I thought we played good. A few lapses there in the second but overall we had a strong game.”
The injury was the longest of his career and explained mentally it wasn’t easy to watch from the stands every game.
King scored in the third period to get his first goal in three months. He explained it was nice to get it out of the way early so he can focus on helping the team win every night.
Head coach Steve Konowalchuk said King is a dangerous shooter and he proved that tonight.
“For the amount of time he missed he played a good game for us,” Konowalchuk added. “I thought his game got stronger as the game went on… You could tell he put the work in to give himself a chance and you can’t simulate games but overall he played a great game.”
In the opening period forward Kalan Lind extended his four-game goal streak by burying an opportunity in front of the open net off the pass from Kai Uchacz.
With two and a half minutes left in the first, Uchacz scored a beauty goal when he lifted the stick of a Cougars defender in the offensive zone and fired a wrist shot into the top corner to beat the goaltender.
The home team didn’t stop there and with less than a minute left defenceman Mats Lindgren finished off a tic-tac-toe play off the one-time pass from Uchacz to take a 3-0 lead.
The second period was owned by the Cougars who scored four goals in the frame.
The first came less than 30 seconds in when the Cougars scored an empty net goal. In bizarre fashion, Rebels goalie Kyle Kelsey left the net after a delayed penalty and the Rebels scored on their own net from the other end of the ice.
This kickstarted a fury of goals by the Cougars scored by Ondrej Becher, Jaxsen Wiebe, and Koehn Ziemmer to take a 4-3 lead all within approximately six minutes of each other.
However, with just under a minute and a half left in the second, defenceman Christoffer Sedoff hammered in the equalizer from the blueline on the powerplay to tie it 4-4.
In the third period while on the powerplay Uchacz fired in a one-time shot from a sharp angle for his 36th goal of the season and fifth point of the night to give Red Deer a 5-4 lead.
At the midway point of the period, Lindgren notched his second of the game on the powerplay off the pass from Lind.
Minutes later King buried his sixth goal of the season on the powerplay to take a 7-4 lead.
The Cougars didn’t go away quietly as Ziemmer buried his second of the game to bring Prince George within two.
With under four minutes left, Grubbe put the game out of reach when he fired in the puck on a rebound opportunity in front.
Goaltender Kyle Kelsey, who has been out since Dec. 17 with a lower-body injury made 22 saves in the effort.
“I think the fans should have had fun watching that one. [It was] a little hard for the coaches but overall I’m happy with our guys,” Konowalchuk said.
“Our guys played a really good first period, regrouped in the third. Give their team credit in the second they pushed back. They’ve got a really good powerplay… In the third, I thought we got back and did a good job controlling our emotions.”
The Rebels will be back on the ice Saturday night when they welcome the Brandon Wheat Kings to the Peavey Mart Centrium at 7 p.m.