Red Deer Rebels forward Brandon Cutler just misses a backhand on Lethbridge Hurricanes goalie Logan Flodell Wednesday night at the Centrium in WHL action. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Kristian Reichel with four-point night, Rebels win third straight

Move within three points of second place in the Central Division

There is simply no way to stop the Red Deer Rebels top line lately.

Kristian Reichel, Brandon Hagel and Mason McCarty made another statement in a 5-2 victory at the Centrium Wednesday over their first round WHL playoff opponent.

The trio combined for three goals and eight points in the dominant win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Reichel, 19, led the way, scoring twice and adding two assists in the victory on Wednesday.

He has five goals and seven points in his last three games and was first star in the 5-2 win. Hagel was the second star with a goal and an assist.

“It’s working. Every shot and every pass we make, it’s working. Hopefully, we will take it into playoffs,” Reichel said.

“We’re happy we’re producing now and helping the team to win. It would be nice to stop it now and start it at playoffs again.”

Rebels GM/Head Coach Brent Sutter said the offensive performance is what he’s come to expect from his top unit late in the year.

“They should be your best players and this is the time of year, you need your best players to rise to the occasion and take it and put everyone on their shoulders and they’ve played well,” Sutter said.

“Everyone else has to fall in line and do their jobs and for their most part they’ve been doing that too.”

With the win, the Rebels moved just three points back on the Hurricanes for second place in the Central Division.

The victory also meant the Rebels still have an outside shot at home ice advantage in the first round if they can win their final two games.

“We did what we had to do to win. It was type of game that was sloppy at times, but at times there was purpose in it too,” Sutter said.

“Obviously we needed to win if we want to give ourselves a chance, you never know what can happen going into the weekend.”

Riley Lamb was solid in the Rebels net with 32 saves.

Reichel opened the scoring in the first when he banked a pass in off a Hurricanes’ defender and in, on just the Rebels third shot of the period.

On the second Red Deer goal, Reichel picked up a loose puck high in the offensive zone and feathered it in to Josh Tarzwell who has all alone in front of the Hurricanes’ crease.

The 17-year-old Red Deer product snuck his 10th goal of the season past Reece Klassen on the power play with a backhand 1:04 into the second. Tarzwell was third star with a goal and an assist.

Hurricanes forward Zane Franklin picked up a nice pass from Brad Morrison and buried a wrist shot high glove over Lamb on the power play and cut the deficit to only a goal.

Reichel briefly left the ice after blocking a shot shorthanded in the second but returned in a big way on the power play.

The Rebels first-year centre notched his 34th of the campaign and second of the night after he hunted down a loose puck in the slot and fired it top corner.

Hagel found the mark and made it 4-1 early in the third. Mason McCarty rushed into the zone and slid a pass to Hagel who notched his sixth goal in the last four games and ninth point over that span.

The Buffalo Sabres draft pick is also up to 18 goals on the season and 58 points in 55 games. Reichel assisted on the goal to add his fourth point of the game.

Reese Johnson poured some salt in the Hurricanes wound with a wrist shot past Klassen late in the third to ice the victory.

The Rebels will play their final regular season home game the season Friday against the Kootenay Ice. Red Deer will finish the regular season on March 17 in Kootenay.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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