Red Deer 6 Calgary 5 (OT)
The Red Deer Rebels refused to quit on Friday night and it paid off in the end.
Down two goals late in the third period, the Red Deer Rebels launched a comeback to tie the game 5-5 against the Calgary Hitmen.
And in overtime, sniper Ben King notched his third of the postseason to win the series at the Peavey Mart Centrium.
Head coach Steve Konowalchuk was ecstatic following the series win.
“Give Calgary credit they came out really hard today… I thought we played a good game pretty much from start to finish, but there were some key mistakes we made and they capitalized but we kept going,” he said.
“Down two goals like that it could be easy to get frustrated. Our guys kept going and I think that’s a good learning lesson here in playoffs. You’re not done and you just keep playing.”
At the beginning of the game, the Rebels struck first just over four minutes into the opening period on the powerplay when forward Kalan Lind’s shot just snuck past Hitmen goaltender Brayden Peters.
Later in the period, the Hitmen scored two straight with less than a minute between goals.
The first, scored by David Adaszynski, came on the man advantage, and 50 seconds later Brandon Whynott gave Calgary their first lead of the game.
Rebels defenceman Mats Lindgren found the equalizer with less than a minute remaining in the first. On the powerplay, Lindgren hammered in a point shot off a nifty pass from Ben King to head into the intermission tied 2-2.
Midway through the second period, Lindgren and King connected again on the powerplay. Lindgren notched his second of the game on a one-timer opportunity at the top of the circle in front of the net.
However, with eight minutes to go Hitmen forward Maxim Muranov capitalized on a breakaway opportunity to tie the game 3-3.
The Rebels began the third period down a man after a penalty at the end of the second but the team successfully killed it off.
However shortly after killing off the penalty, the Rebels were back in box for hooking. This time the Hitmen capitalized on the man advantage with a goal by Oliver Tulk.
With 10 minutes to go in the game, the Rebels had a golden opportunity to tie it. But right off the opening faceoff in the offensive zone, the Hitmen caused a turnover. Muranov scored the shorthanded goal, once again on the breakaway.
With four and a half minutes left in the game, Matteo Fabrizi was left alone in front of the net and put it top shelf over the goalie’s shoulder.
Two minutes later the Rebels tied the game 5-5 when defenceman Christoffer Sedoff hammered home the equalizer from the right circle.
In the final minute, the Rebels took the lead when Kalan Lind crashed the net but the officials immediately waved it off. The 6,000 plus fans in attendance let them hear it, raining down the boos with plenty of “Ref you suck!” chants.
However, the call didn’t matter as Ben King came up clutch in overtime to send the Rebels to the Eastern Conference semi-finals, winning the series against their Central Division rivals 4-1.
“I’m so proud of our guys,” Konowalchuk said. “So many guys chipped in. It was a great team effort the whole series. We should enjoy it for a night then get ready to move on.”