Ready with the broom

The Edmonton Oil Kings are on the ropes and the Red Deer Rebels are eager to follow through with a knockout punch tonight at Rexall Place.

Edmonton Oil King Curtis Lazar deflects a shot in front of Red Deer Rebel goaltender Darcy Kuemper and Brad Deagle in Game 2 of the series Saturday at the Centrium. The Rebels will try to eliminate the Oil Kings in Game tonight in Edmonton.

Edmonton Oil King Curtis Lazar deflects a shot in front of Red Deer Rebel goaltender Darcy Kuemper and Brad Deagle in Game 2 of the series Saturday at the Centrium. The Rebels will try to eliminate the Oil Kings in Game tonight in Edmonton.

The Edmonton Oil Kings are on the ropes and the Red Deer Rebels are eager to follow through with a knockout punch tonight at Rexall Place.

“It would be huge to get it over with,” Rebels forward Byron Froese said Wednesday, looking forward to the opportunity to finish off the Oil Kings with a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Hockey League Eastern Conference quarter-final.

A victory tonight would give the Rebels at least a week off before the second round of post-season play. Meanwhile, all of their next possible opponents — Medicine Hat, Kootenay and Moose Jaw — are involved in series which will last a minimum of five games, and more likely six or seven.

“These others teams are still battling,” said Froese. “It will be a big game for us tomorrow, a chance to move on and get some rest, and we’ll have to be at our best for 60 minutes.”

While the Oil Kings lack Red Deer’s five-on-five scoring punch and have also struggled on the power play (zero-for-12), they’ve played the Rebels tough in all three contests.

“They’re always working hard. They’re a good team and they’re fast,” said Froese. “They’re a little small but they make up for it in their work and their speed. We just have to make sure that we bring our best effort every shift and every period tomorrow night.”

Froese scored the tying and insurance goals in Monday’s 3-1 Game 3 win at Edmonton, giving him a trio of tallies in the series, a team-high mark he shares with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

The Winkler, Man., native sniped a team-best 43 regular-season goals with the Rebels after potting a then career-high 29 with Everett in the 2009-10 campaign, his second with the Silvertips. Froese admitted he did not envision putting together a 40-plus goal season when he was dealt to the Rebels last summer in exchange for Landon Ferraro, although when he considered who he might be playing alongside on the Red Deer power play . . .

“I talked to some guys, friends of mine who played in this conference, and they all told me how good of a player Nugent-Hopkins is, so I thought if I could get to play with him that maybe I could do something special,” said Froese. “And it happened to work out that way. It’s been a great season for me and hopefully I can keep it going.”

Froese and Nugent-Hopkins have been on the Rebels’ special teams units. The Red Deer superstar has made a habit of feeding the puck to Froese in either of the faceoff circles, a pass that has often led to a goal off a one-timer.

“He just has a knack of being able to find me wherever I am,” said Froese.

“I just try and find the open ice, try to get open away from their guys and he seems to be able to put the puck right on my tape. It’s pretty easy to bury pucks when he’s putting the puck on your tape.”

While he was somewhat caught off guard by last year’s trade, Froese approached the move in a positive manner. Clearly, he still has that mindset.

The deal, in retrospect, further established the centre as a gifted offensive force.

“I really thought that coming here would be a fresh start for me,” he said. “I thought it would give me a chance to be someone who I wanted to be and not just be labelled as something else. I took advantage of that when I could and Jesse (head coach Wallin) really gave me an opportunity to shine and excel here. I have to thank him for everything he’s given me.”

Froese, who celebrated his 20th birthday earlier this month, was selected by Chicago in the fourth round of the 2009 entry draft but said he has no idea as to if and when he’ll sign with the Blackhawks.

“I’ll worry about that later,” he said. “For now I just have to keep playing my game, playing hard and helping the team go as far as possible in the playoffs.”

If the Oil Kings prevail tonight, a fifth game will be played Saturday at the Centrium.

• Rebels forward Adam Kambeitz missed most of Game 3 with an undisclosed illness/Injury and is questionable for tonight’s contest.

gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com