Mr. Consistency Brandon Hagel brought it again for the Red Deer Rebels.
Hagel scored twice and was first star in a dominant 5-1 victory over the Prince George Cougars Saturday night at the Centrium.
The 20-year-old forward scored the game-winning goal late in the second and also hit the 30-goal mark for the second time in his career.
“What do you say about Hags?” quipped Rebels GM/ head coach Brent Sutter.
“It becomes a common theme. Hags is certainly a catalyst and we need our older players to be good players and we need our best players to be our best players.”
More importantly, the win pushed the Rebels into second in the central division with a 28-15-2-1 record and 59 points, one ahead of Lethbridge and Medicine Hat who both lost Saturday. Red Deer also has three games in hand on Edmonton, who sits first in the central with 60 points.
“Good game, points are crucial at this time of year, we got the two points so we gotta be happy with it,” Hagel said.
After the Rebels missed a nearly two-minute five-on-three advantage early in the game, Rebels forward Arshdeep Bains opened the scoring off the rush. The young forward has two goals and an assist in his last three games.
“Our power play didn’t start off great. Our five-on-five play was very good. I thought the young kids played well,” Sutter said.
“They got a big first goal early in the game, especially after the power play seemed to not get it going for us.”
Midway through the first, Cougars forward Josh Curtis beat Ethan Anders off the post and in for his eighth goal of the year to tie the game.
Red Deer continued to push and was rewarded late in the second. Dawson Barteaux sprung Brandon Hagel on a breakaway, but after he was slashed, the veteran was awarded a penalty shot.
He failed on the attempt but only 49 seconds later outwaited Isaiah DiLaura and buried a shot short side on the young netminder.
“(The penalty shot) didn’t work out, but I got it back. Obviously, I was a little frustrated I didn’t bury it there, so once I got that one, it got all the guys going,” Hagel said.
The ice started to tip in the Rebels favour from that point on and late in the second, they pulled away from the Cougars.
With 85 seconds left in the period, Cam Hausinger extended the Rebels advantage. On a 3-on-1, the 19-year-old took a feed from Chris Douglas and ripped it in.
Hagel then blew the game open early in the third with a blast blocker side. The tally was his 30th of the season and moved him into fifth on the Rebels all-time franchise goals list with 92 in his career. With 30 goals and 44 assists on the year, Hagel moved into fourth in the WHL points race.
Brett Davis added to the Cougars heartbreak a minute later. He notched his 15th of the year and eighth since joining the Rebels. In 19 games in Red Deer, he has 20 points.
Anders was third star and finished the game with 26 saves. Hausinger had a goal and two assists in the win and was second star. The 19-year-old forward continues to roll since returning to Red Deer, with 18 points in 18 games.