It only took a period for Trey Fix-Wolansky to burn the Red Deer Rebels.
The Rebels held a 3-1 lead heading into the third period Sunday in Edmonton but fell victim to the Oil Kings captain.
Fix-Wolansky, the WHL’s second-best scorer buried twice in a four-minute span to tie the game at four.
He then made a great pass to set up the game-winning goal by Vince Loschiavo on a five-on-three power play with six minutes and 30 seconds left.
“We didn’t have everybody play like they need to and then in the third we gave up way too many scoring chances and too many shots and we took some terrible penalties,” said Rebels GM/ head coach Brent Sutter after the 5-4 loss Sunday.
Edmonton erased a pair of two-goal deficits in the third period to pick up the 5-4 victory and two crucial points in the race for top spot in the Central Division.
With four games in hand, the Oil Kings lead the Rebels by three points in the division.
Despite falling behind 1-0 in the opening frame Sunday, Red Deer came out firing in the second.
Oleg Zaytsev scored the first of three unanswered goals for the Rebels in the period.
Dawson Barteaux sniped a rocket past Todd Scott and Reese Johnson buried a one-timer on the power play. Red Deer had a 3-1 advantage after 40 minutes and limited the Oil Kings to just four shots in the second.
“They were skating and moving,” Sutter said of his team in the middle frame.
In the third, the Oil Kings woke up.
Andrei Pavlenko scored 2:25 into the period to cut the deficit to a goal. Just 55 seconds later, Johnson restored the Red Deer advantage with his second goal of the night.
Only 92 seconds after that, Fix-Wolansky willed to Oil Kings back into the game once again. The veteran sniper blasted his 22nd goal of the year right off a face off.
Four minutes later, he notched his 23rd to tie the game at four.
After Jeff de Wit received a double minor for high sticking and on the same stoppage Zaytsev went to the box for interference, things went from bad to worse for Red Deer.
On the ensuing advantage, Vince Loschiavo was johnny on the spot at the side of the Rebels’ net and gave the Oil Kings a 5-4 lead.
“In the third, we got playing on our heels and standing around and watching,” the Rebels bench boss lamented.
“Everything was soft. We weren’t assertive, we weren’t hard on the forecheck. We allowed them to control pucks and come at us. We skated backwards in the neutral zone.”
Red Deer blew a pair of third period leads in the game and Sutter pointed to that as an alarming trend for his group as 2019 looms.
“It’s been that way a lot this year, our third periods haven’t been good. We’ve had leads in the third and we get passive or we don’t play the game the right way like you need to for 60 minutes,” he said.
We didn’t have any push. Not just tonight or the 27th, we’ve had a lot of games where we’ve had leads going into the third and we don’t stay with it or play the game the right way.”
Scott stopped 31 shots in the win and Ethan Anders turned aside 30 for the Rebels.
According to Oil Kings head coach Brad Lauer, defenceman Matthew Robertson is at home and recovering well. Robertson was injured in a nasty collision with Jacob Herauf at the end of the first period Saturday in Red Deer.
The Rebels are back at home Wednesday when they host the Lethbridge Hurricanes.