Rebels 3, Ice 2
In a relatively even game, the Red Deer Rebels and Kootenay Ice looked destined for overtime.
Cue Rebels’ leading point producer Brandon Hagel, who ensured the visitors would have a happy bus ride home from Cranbrook.
With only 50 seconds left and the game tied at two, Hagel notched his 15th goal of the year after a great feed from Reese Johnson. Red Deer pulled out two points with a 3-2 victory, their fifth straight win and 11th in the last 13.
“We found a way. It wasn’t beautiful,” Red Deer Rebels GM/ head coach Brent Sutter said.
“We played hard and battled, we just took many penalties in the first half of the game and lost the momentum that we had early. Gave them some life. (Kootenay) played good from that point on. I thought we were a little erratic and then in the last 10 minutes we got more into how we like to play.”
Early in the game that drew 2,103 fans to Western Financial Place, the Rebels were dominant.
Dawson Barteaux opened the scoring midway through the first, just eight seconds into a power play. The sixth-round pick of the Dallas Stars in the 2018 NHL Draft fired a shot from the half wall that went in off the crossbar short side on Ice netminder Jesse Makaj.
Later in the first, Jeff de Wit buried a rebound for his 15th goal of the year. Hagel and de Wit are tied for the team lead in goals. De Wit has goals in each of his last three games and in nine of his 10 games.
Only 50 seconds later, the Ice began to climb back into the game. It was also the start of a parade to the penalty box for the Rebels. Seven seconds into a Carson Sass high-stick penalty, former Rebel Cameron Hausinger scored for Kootenay to cut the deficit.
Red Deer took three minor penalties in the second and lost most of their momentum in the middle frame.
“Little bit of everything. Not that every one is intentional, but a few high sticking penalties, ones that you just can’t take. Slashing penalty; after the whistle goes you take a roughing penalty. You have to be better than that,” Sutter said.
Hausinger has been a thorn in Rebels’ side all season long and struck again just under six minutes into the third to tie the game at two.
Hagel played hero for the Rebels, putting a shot short side past Makaj at 19:10 of the third. Sutter said it was defenceman Alex Alexeyev who deserved a lot of credit for the game-winner.
“It was a good play by Alex in the neutral zone,” Sutter said.
“Rush it through the middle and he moved it to the outside and drove to the net. Opened up a lane for (Johnson) to move the puck across to (Hagel). Hags put it in short side, caught the goalie moving one side to the other.”
Hagel is now up to 39 points in 21 games this season.
The Rebels penalty had to be strong on the night and only allowed one Ice goal in six opportunities. Ethan Anders also stood tall with 27 saves.
Red Deer is back on home ice Saturday when they take on the Medicine Hat Tigers. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.