Tigers 2 Rebels 1
MEDICINE HAT – If the Red Deer Rebels’ second period had been as good as their first and third, they might have pulled out a WHL playoff victory Saturday night.
Instead, the visitors were outshot 16-8 in the middle frame and surrendered the eventual winning goal, losing the opener of the best-of-seven WHL Eastern Conference quarter-final 2-1 to the Medicine Hat Tigers.
“Our second period hurt us,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “We got on our heels and they dictated the play in the second.
“But we were better in the third and we had a good first period.”
The Rebels carried the play early but gave up the only goal of the opening period when Kyle Becker buried a rebound at 6:32.
Cole Sanford notched a power-play marker at 14:29 of the second period, his high shot from the right face off circle beating Red Deer netminder Rylan Toth, and the goal stood up as the winner despite a strong third-period push by the Rebels.
The Rebels pulled to within one at 11:19 of the third when Grayson Pawlenchuk chipped a rebound past Tigers goaltender Marek Langhamer and outshot their hosts 16-7 in the final period but couldn’t find the equalizer down the stretch.
“You have to score goals. We had opportunities in the third period and didn’t capitalize,” said Sutter, whose team was outshot 33-32.
“It’s one game but you can’t leave here being satisfied or happy or anything like that.
“We have to be better tomorrow night. We have to play a 60-minute game.”
Game 2 goes tonight at the Medicine Hat Arena before the series shifts to Red Deer for Games 3 and 4 Wednesday and Thursday.