The Red Deer Rebels picked up a point in their third straight game on Saturday night, but ultimately came up just short in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Tri-City Americans.
In the only meeting between the two teams this season, the Rebels clawed their way back from a pair of two-goal deficits to force extra time in their final game before the Christmas break.
Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said it was a good game with scoring opportunities for both teams.
“In overtime, you have a power play and then you get to a shootout, anything can happen,” said Sutter. “I was proud of the kids. They played hard here tonight and it was a heck of a game. The last four games have been the best hockey we’ve played all year.”
With just three seconds left in the game and the Rebels down one, Mason McCarty raced down the ice and fired a shot on net before captain Grayson Pawlenchuk picked up a rebound and slid it past Beck Warm to tie the game at four.
The Rebels failed to convert on the man advantage in overtime and couldn’t find the mark in the shootout.
Both McCarty and Austin Schellenberg missed in the shootout for Red Deer, while Morgan Geekie scored for Tri-City. Kyle Olson buried the shootout winner.
Special teams played a huge part in the loss, with the Rebels unable to convert on five opportunities and allowed two power play tallies from the Americans.
Geekie opened the scoring for Tri-City on a deflection that hopped up over Rebels goalie Ethan Anders.
Before Red Deer had their first shot of the game, the Americans took a 2-0 lead with a goal from Isaac Johnson on the power play.
Reese Johnson scored on a breakaway when he fired a wrist shot just past the Warm’s glove. Arshdeep Bains was credited with an assist on the goal, his first in the WHL.
McCarty tied the game at two with just three seconds left in the first. Captain Grayson Pawlenchuk found the streaking winger and McCarty, from his knees was able to redirect the pass by Warm.
The Rebels were efficient with their opportunities in the opening frame, scoring on two of their four shots in the frame.
Carson Focht beat Anders with a wrist shot midway through the second and Michael Rasmussen extended the lead late in the frame with a tip on the power play.
McCarty added his second of the night with 1:16 left in the second, firing a wrist shot high over Warm’s glove on just the Rebels 14th shot of the game.
Johnson had an opportunity to tie the game on a short-handed break early in the third but Warm poked the puck away.
Ethan Anders had another solid night in net for Red Deer with 26 saves.
McCarty, who leads the Rebels in goals with 16 said the team has really been building the last few weeks and he hopes to see them turn a corner after Christmas.
“It’s been rolling through my head with this spurt we’ve been going through. To be honest, I don’t care what anyone says. We’ve deserved a better fate,” McCarty said.
“Over the last four or five games we’re making strides and with a good Christmas break, we’ll come back ready to play and anything can happen.”
Red Deer will return to the ice on Dec. 27 against the Edmonton Oil Kings.