Red Deer 4 Moose Jaw 3 (SO)
The Red Deer Rebels found a way to win.
It wasn’t an easy victory but the home team got the job done beating the Moose Jaw Warriors 4-3 in a shootout.
It was a battle of the goaltenders who were both fantastic but Rebels Rhett Stoesser got the upper hand stopping all three of Moose Jaw’s shooters in the shootout.
“He did a really good job,” said Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk.
“I’m just happy with our guys from start to finish. I thought they played a pretty solid game and maybe a bounce or two it’s not quite as tight but we’ve got to give them credit.
“They’ve got some guys who can score and capitalize on their chances. They did that and we had to make sure we were mentally strong and didn’t get away from playing the way we started… Guys didn’t hang their heads, kept going, and found a way. You always like to win in regulation but it’s fun when you get the shootout win as well.”
Wednesday night marked Red Deer’s first shootout win of the season after losing the last three contests that have gone to a shootout.
Stoesser finished with 27 saves but former Rebel Connor Ungar was magnificent between the pipes for Moose Jaw with 47 saves.
In the dying seconds of the first period, Kai Uchacz buried a rebound off a Frantisek Formanek shot to the net after it bounced off the pad of Ungar. The lone goal of the opening period was Uchacz’s 34th of the season to remain the Western Hockey League’s leading goal scorer.
After a scoreless second period, Moose Jaw got the equalizer 33 seconds into the final frame to tie the game 1-1. Warriors forward Jagger Firkus fired a laser while on the powerplay for his 22nd of the 2022-23 campaign.
However, the game didn’t stay tied for long.
Nearly three minutes into the third Rebels Frantisek Formanek got a jump on the lone Warriors defender to score on the breakaway through the five-hole.
At the midway point, Moose Jaw tied the game again 2-2 this time off the stick of Atley Calvert. A minute and a half later, Rebels Kalan Lind put his team back on top after knocking in the loose puck in front of the net.
Lind said postgame Jayden Grubbe made a nice pass to him and after he attempted to place the puck in the far side of the net, the rebound luckily came back to him.
The net came loose, which caused some controversy about whether the goal should have counted. But in Lind’s mind, there was no doubt about it.
“I was pretty fired up after I scored… I knew it was a goal I knew I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said.
With just over a minute left the Warriors tied the game 3-3 on the powerplay when a shot just trickled through the five-hole of Stoesser.
A hectic three-on-three overtime period had plenty of chances on both sides but Stoesser came up with some important saves including a big stop on 2023 NHL Draft prospect Brayden Yager.
That effort by Stoesser carried through to the shootout where he stopped Moose Jaw’s Yager, Firkus, and Ryder Korczak.
Lind said it was a great effort and everyone did their jobs.
“Everyone competed, played hard, and it came right to the end. We got the win,” Lind said.
“We definitely carried the play most of the game… We ran into a hot goalie over there. Ungar played good, he was obviously here last year, and he’s a good goalie.
“We had to find a way to get past him and finally we did by the end of the period.”
Lind was also impressed by Stoesser’s play.
“He’s a young goalie. Since Kelsey’s been hurt he’s stepped up in a big way and he’s been great for us. He’s been one of our top players helping us win games,” he added.
Rebels will be back in action Friday night at the Centrium against the Edmonton Oil Kings at 7 p.m.