Just be glad the Red Deer Rebels and Edmonton Oil Kings get to do that four more times.
There was a real playoff vibe at the Centrium as the two teams refused to give an inch in a hotly contested mid-season meeting between the Central Division rivals.
Cam Hausinger scored the only goal of the shootout and Rebels netminder Ethan Anders was spectacular in the 2-1 win.
The 18-year-old goalie stopped 38 shots in regulation and overtime, along with all three Oil Kings’ shooters to preserve the victory.
“It’s probably his best game he has had in a while. He was sharp and we need that from him,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said of Anders, who was first star on the night.
“If you want to be a starting goalie in this league and move on to the next level, you have to play that way. You have to play that way if you want to be a number one guy and he got away from that. He was challenged today and he responded to the challenge.”
Legit loudest I’ve heard this building since the playoffs last year.
Hometown boy Jeff de Wit buries a rebound off a Johnson one timer on the power play and Rebels lead 1-0 with under 8 to play in the third. pic.twitter.com/52vR4zQtK4
— Byron Hackett (@RDAbyronhackett) December 30, 2018
In the Oil Kings net Myskiw nearly went blow-for-blow with Anders, stopping 29 shots and two of three shooters in the shootout to earn second-star honors.
As the rivals went shot-for-shot in the first 40 minutes without a goal, Anders said things were tense but he drew confidence from a few saves early in the night.
“You don’t see a whole lot of that these days. (Dylan) Myskiw played an awesome game as well, so it was good for us,” said Anders.
“It’s a confidence booster right off the bat, make a big save and you’re like ‘okay, have to keep the team in it,’ and give them something to go out there and put the puck in the net.”
Red Deer nearly struck the knockout blow, on the power play with just under eight minutes to play in the game.
After a nasty boarding double minor by Vladimir Alistrov that left Jacob Herauf bloody, Red Deer finally capitalized on the man advantage.
Off the rush, Brandon Hagel found Reese Johnson who blasted a one-timer on Myskiw. The rebound fell right into the feet of Jeff de Wit, who cashed in his 20th goal of the year.
Still, Edmonton refused to go quietly into the night. Conner McDonald fired an absolute blast past Anders that tied the game with 2:16 to play.
Early in overtime, Hagel appeared to score the game-winning goal.
He burst down the wing and chipped a shot past Myskiw. The goal light went on and the arena went wild, but the referee immediately waved it off. A review of the shot almost three minutes later showed the puck hit the crossbar and bounced out, never crossing the goal line.
With the shootout victory, Red Deer pulled within a point of the Oil Kings for first in the division, but still have four games in hand.
Perhaps the best news from rivalry battle Saturday at the Centrium– hockey fans will get to see another it another four times this season.
“It was more of a playoff-type game. It was tight, both goalies were really good. From our perspective, I just thought our whole game was completely different than (Friday),” Sutter said.
“Our awareness was much better, we did a good job of being alert and doing the things we had to do in our team game. I thought a lot of games, played a lot better here. This time of year, there’s going to be a lot of one-goal games and you gotta learn to play in them and play the game the right way within it.”