Red Deer Rebels forward Reese Johnson fires a breakaway attempt just wide in the first period against the Swift Current Broncos on Saturday night at the Centrium in WHL action. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Rebels fall in OT to Swift Current

The Swift Current Broncos slip past the Red Deer Rebels in a 3-2 overtime win Saturday night at the Centrium.

Max Patterson slid the OT winner past Riley Lamb at 3:16 in the extra frame.

The loss Saturday was the 11th in a row for the Rebels and they now have just one win in the last 17 games. Their last victory on home ice was on Oct. 28.

Red Deer went shot-for-shot with one of the WHL’s best teams until the game-winning goal, although the Broncos were missing two of their top stars in Tyler Steenbergen and Alexi Heponiemi due to injuries. That duo has combined for 130 points with Swift Current this year.

Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said an inch here or there on several shots that hit posts for the Rebels in the loss and it could have been an entirely different story. He said his team played well again and he was happy with the effort.

“Leading up to the third period, we had given up five scoring chances against us,” he said. “I was proud of the way we played without the puck. A lot of good signs, we just have to stay with it. There’s nothing easy about it, we could have just as easily won this game. We probably deserved to win, but it never happened for us.”

Red Deer broke a 172-minute scoreless drought midway through the first period, as captain Grayson Pawlenchuk picked up a loose puck and darted behind the Broncos net, before quickly wrapping it around into a wide-open cage.

Reese Johnson almost gave the Rebels a 2-0 lead on the power play in the opening frame, but after a short review, the goal was called back because Johnson appeared to kick the puck in.

The Broncos power play was the difference in regulation.

Swift Current tied the game at one just seven seconds into their first power play of the night when Glenn Gawdin sniped a wrist shot low blocker past Lamb.

The Broncos took a lead with 7:16 left in the second, just 20 seconds into a man-advantage. Newly-acquired Matteo Gennaro, picked up from the Calgary Hitmen on Nov. 25, wired a shot blocker side on Lamb from inside the faceoff dot.

Rebels forward Kristian Reichel tied the game at two on the power play in the third. His 14th goal of the season came after he reloaded on a one-timer and shifted to the middle of the ice, before unloading a cannon of a slap shot that went off the post and in past Broncos goalie Joel Hofer. Reichel leaves on Wednesday to represent the Czech Republic at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo.

Josh Tarzwell, a Red Deer native, made his debut for the Rebels Saturday after being traded in exchange for Rebels veteran Lane Zablocki late Friday night. He played on a line with Austin Schellenberg and Chris Douglas, forming an effective checking tandem for the night. Tarzwell arrived in Red Deer just under two hours before game time and Sutter liked the way the 17-year-old adapted to the Rebels game plan.

“He was very good. That line was good. They got speed and they have some skill. They can shoot pucks. They had quite a bit of zone time tonight,” Sutter said. “I thought (Tarzwell) adjusted really well to it and I thought he played really well.”

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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