Rebels 2 Royals 3 (Shootout)
A duel between two goalies at opposite ends of their career stole the show at the Centrium Saturday.
Red Deer Rebels rookie netminder Byron Fancy, in his first start since December 1 made 34 saves and Victoria Royals veteran netminder Griffen Outhouse was equal to the task with 32 stops.
Outhouse, 20, made the extra stop to clinch the 3-2 victory, turning aside Oleg Zaytsev in the shootout after Kody McDonald beat Fancy in extra shooters.
It was the third straight game on home ice the Rebels went to a shootout, but only Brandon Hagel was able to beat Outhouse, who was second star, in the skills competition.
“It was a good game, a hard-fought game. Both goalies were really good,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said.
“At the end of the night, we had power plays and got some chances on them we didn’t capitalize and they got the shorthanded goal Overall, I was happy with our compete level and our play.”
Fancy made a number of big saves to keep the game tied and also had a highlight reel stop late in the second that kept Red Deer within a goal.
“He played really well and we need that from our goalies. From here on in, the rest of the season we need to have good goaltending,” Sutter added.
“Byron hadn’t played in a bit, he got in tonight and he played big. Made some huge saves. He was active and did a really good job.”
Fancy, who has only started six times in 38 games this season, blanked the Royals in the final 30 minutes. He stopped eight shots in the third and one in overtime. The 18-year-old credited the work he’s done in practice as the reason he was prepared to step in.
“I felt good. I’ve been waiting to get in the lineup and working hard in practice. Just showing them that I’m ready. Felt good,” said Fancy, who was first star on the game.
After a tough loss Friday in Calgary, Sutter also decided to use a different tactic to jump-start his group Saturday on home ice. That tactic was an attempt to lighten the mood, by starting five defencemen for the opening faceoff.
“I had no problem with it, I just thought it was a change. Something new and the kids got a chuckle out of it and that’s what I was hoping for,” said the Rebels’ bench boss.
Chase Leslie, usually a defenceman was one of those five and played the rest of the contest on forward. He had a few chances to score his first career WHL goal and played most of the night with Dallon Melin and Alex Morozoff.
“I think we found a new forward,” chuckled Sutter.
“He’s quick and he’s got a good shot. When you use him in the middle he can be the low man in your own zone and he had a lot of energy. He’s such a great skater. I thought let’s try it, get a little more pace and speed into the game.”
Red Deer was still slow out of the gate in the opening 10 minutes until Hagel made a spectacular play to boost the group.
He was upended Igor Martynov but as he was falling still had the presence mind to make a play. On his way down, Hagel found a wide open Oleg Zaytsev in front of the Royals net. Zaytsev deked quickly and shoveled the puck past Outhouse.
The second period was a nightmare frame for the Rebels. They were outshot 13-6 and allowed a shorthanded goal.
Shortly after a Rebels’ penalty expired at 7:12 of the second, Jameson Murray wired a wrist shot through Fancy’s five-hole.
Then early in a Rebels’ man advantage, Hagel turned the puck over to Taren Fizer at the Royals blueline. Fizer hit Kaid Oliver on the two-on-one and he buried a short-handed tally to pull ahead 2-1.
After a lacklustre second, Red Deer came out firing early in the third. Just 19 seconds in, a Brett Davis shot deflected off a Royals’ shin pad on the way to the net and bounced past Outhouse.
Red Deer had a few chances to win the game late, and Hagel had a glorious opportunity in overtime to seal it.
Royals forward Igor Martynov beat Fancy on the first shot of the shootout, but Fancy stopped two former Rebels in D-Jay Jerome and Brandon Cutler that gave Red Deer a chance to win. Cam Hausinger wasn’t able to convert on his shot, and McDonald fired a bullet past Fancy on the fifth Royals’ shot.
Red Deer hits the road for their next four games, before returning to the Centrium Jan. 19 against the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Cam Hausinger was the player of the month for December with seven points in seven games.