Hitmen 5 Rebels 3
The suddenly surging Calgary Hitmen gave the Red Deer Rebels all they could handle Friday.
Calgary had won seven of their past 10 heading the WHL tilt and eight of their past nine at home. Yet the Rebels had their number this season, winning all five games between the two clubs.
It was Calgary’s turn to pick up two points on home ice Friday at the Saddledome, knocking off the Rebels 5-3.
After a slow start to the game, Calgary finally broke the goose egg early in the second. Cael Zimmerman notched his third of the season at 3:41 and took an early lead.
Brett Davis brought the Rebels even just under six minutes into the frame, but Bryce Bader responded for the Hitmen late in the period.
Calgary outshot the Rebels 15-5 in the second period.
Rebels defenceman Dawson Barteaux tied the game just 68 seconds into the third period on the power play and temporarily seized momentum.
Quickly, the Hitmen bit back with a goal 42 ticks later by Red Deer product Luke Coleman. Only 2:19 after that, Kaden Elder extended the Calgary advantage to 4-2.
Red Deer kept battling late and got within a goal in the final five minutes.
Reese Johnson buried a one-timer with 3:44 left after Brandon Hagel outhustled the Hitmen defence to a loose puck.
Hagel found Oleg Zaytsev, who funneled the puck to Johnson and the Rebels captain notched his 18th tally of the year.
Zimmerman added his fourth of the year, second of the night with just 96 seconds left to ice the game.
In the final 15 minutes of the third period, the Rebels outshot Calgary 12-8 but weren’t able to solve Jack McNaughton.
The Hitmen netminder had 20 saves to earn his 12th victory of the year.
Ethan Anders made 23 saves in the Rebels net.
Red Deer is back on home ice Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Centrium against the Victoria Royals.