Rebels 5 Warriors 2
It has been tough sledding on home ice for the Red Deer Rebels this season.
With just two wins in 13 games at the Centrium heading into a date with the Moose Jaw Warriors Wednesday, they were long overdue to send the Rebels’ faithful home happy.
They did just that, with their first won on home ice since Nov. 16, knocking off the Warriors 5-2 in convincing fashion.
After scoring 58 seconds in, there were some shaky moments for the home side in the opening 20 minutes, but from there, Byron Fancy shut the door in goal with 30 saves on the night. Red Deer got goals from five different players, and limited Moose Jaw snipers Brayden Tracey and Ryder Korczak.
“I thought the last two periods, we had our feet moving and got going. We had a lot of turnovers in the first period,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said.
“But we settled down and got playing in the second and I thought the third period could have been our best third period all year. Byron was really good, he played well for us.”
Things got off on the right foot for the home side, as Chris Douglas opened the scoring just 58 seconds into the game. Ben King intercepted a pass behind the Warriors net and fed Douglas, who was wide open in net for a one-timer. It was the first time in the last six games Red Deer scored first.
Moose Jaw took control but Fancy held the fort for the most part in the period until the final 10 seconds.
With only six seconds left in the first, Moose Jaw’s Owen Hardy banked a shot in from behind the net.
Undeterred, Red Deer pushed back early in the second and were rewarded early in the frame. Defenceman Ethan Sakowich buried high glove on Adam Evanoff for his seventh of the year, doubling his WHL career goal total.
“I gotta keep my eyes closed because I haven’t really been looking at the net much,” joked Sakowich, who has 14 goals in 232 WHL games.
“I haven’t been thinking about it too much, they’ve just been going in for me. Just gotta hope that luck stays with me.”
Arshdeep Bains added on, getting a fortunate bounce on a pass from Dawson Barteaux that went off his skate and in on the power play 7:50 into the period. That turned out to be the game-winner after Hardy scored his second of the night with 1:46 left in the game.
Before Hardy’s tally, Brett Davis scored on a wraparound, it was the first goal since Nov. 6 for the 20-year-old centre. Josh Tarzwell added an empty-net goal, his team-leading 10th of the season.
When the Rebels’ had lapses, it was Fancy who shut the door. He turned aside 13 of 14 shots in the first, and 17 the rest of the way in the win. That is now back-to-back wins for the 18-year-old netminder.
“He was awesome. The last couple of games, he’s really the reason why we got those extra points,” said Sakowich, who was first star, while Fancy earned second-star honours.
“I know he was struggling a little bit but, it’s good for us and it’s good for his confidence because we really need him.
Warriors netminder Adam Evanoff was also solid despite the loss, turning aside 28 shots.
Red Deer is on the road Friday in Moose Jaw to finish the home and home, before taking on the Regina Pats Saturday. The Rebels’ next home game is Dec. 13 against the Medicine Hat Tigers.