Rebels 6 Tigers 4
Of course, it was Friday the 13th.
In the most bizarre of nights at the Centrium, it was the Red Deer Rebels who got the last laugh against the red hot Medicine Hat Tigers.
The Tigers had 19 goals in their last two games and the Rebels had managed that many in the last five.
Medicine Hat were winners of eight of its last nine, while the Rebels had won just three over that same stretch.
So, naturally, it was the Rebels who poured in six goals but still had to hang on for a 6-4 victory over the Tigers in front of 3,649 fans Friday night.
Red Deer had a 5-0 lead after 40 minutes but the oddities kept coming in the third, as the home side allowed four goals in the final 14 minutes and needed an empty-net goal from Brett Davis to close it out.
Only one of the Rebels goals’ came at even strength, as Arshdeep Bains scored twice shorthanded 3:15 apart in the second period. Josh Tarzwell and Cam Hausinger had power play tallies in the victory as well.
“For 40 minutes, it was right. We got a couple of short handed goals, power play was good. When you have a 5-0 lead going into the third, we talked about staying on the edge and keeping our intensity level up where it needed to be and make sure we were on our toes,” Rebels GM/ head coach Brent Sutter said.
“Good teams are going to push, they’re going to play right to the end. Especially when they’re down like that. You give ‘em, one, two, now they’ve got life. Listen, it’s two points, it’s a win against a very good team. I hope it’s another lesson for our group.”
Hausinger opened the scoring on the power play midway through the first. Brett Davis feathered a pass across the ice to his fellow 20-year-old and Hausinger went top shelf for his seventh goal of the year. It was their first power play goal in the last nine chances.
Bains padded the Rebels’ lead 4:17 into the second, dashing into the slot and firing a backhand past Evan Fradette, who was starting his first career WHL game.
He notched his second shorthanded tally 3:15 later after a great forecheck by Ben King to strip the puck and feed Bains who was all alone in front.
“We’re a high-pressure PK, so it’s a lot of opportunities if we can create turnovers and tonight it was fun,” said Bains, who was the first star Friday.
Josh Tarzwell got in on the goal parade just past the midway point of the period, tipping in a nice pass from Jayden Grubbe. Tarzwell also added two assists on the night.
Grubbe got his own tally with 2:54 left in the frame, tapping in a nice touch pass from Hausinger into a wide-open net.
Medicine Hat pushed the pace in the third, before goals by Carson Hopwo, Brett Kemp and James Hamblin a minute and 44 seconds apart late in the game to get Medicine Hat within a goal.
“They’re really skilled and they work hard, we knew we had to come out strong and we did, we still have to play the full 60,” added Bains, who leads the Rebels with 10 goals and 23 points on the year.
Even though Byron Fancy allowed four third period goals, he turned aside 39 shots in the win. He stopped 18 shots in the first alone and was able to prevent the Tigers from tying the game in the final two minutes of the contest.
“Byron was fine, he was good. He was very calm in the net and looked big, did what he had to for us,” Sutter said.
In his first career WHL start, Fradette made 19 saves for the visitors.
Saturday night, in the final game before the Christmas break, the Rebels will host their annual Toque, Socks and Mitt Toss night. In addition, they will also make it a teddy bear toss. They have discounted tickets and parking is free at Westerner Park for the contest.
Three Stars: Arshdeep Bains (1), James Hamblin (2), Josh Tarzwell (3).