Red Deer 4 Edmonton 2
It was a bizarre night at the Peavey Mart Centrium.
The Red Deer Rebels completed a convincing 4-2 win but for the second year in a row, the Red Deer Rebels faithful flooded the ice with teddy bears prematurely.
A Friday night tilt between the Rebels and the Edmonton Oil Kings for the annual Toque and Teddy Bear Toss night had fans waiting in anticipation for the first goal. But with approximately five minutes left in the opening period the game took an unusual turn.
Forward Jayden Grubbe fired a shot on the net that trickled in the crease but the officials immediately waved it off. Despite that, those in attendance didn’t want to wait any longer and began throwing the items onto the ice despite the PA announcer telling them not to.
Once play resumed Rebels defenceman Mats Lindgren scored but after review it was ruled a no-goal further delaying the inevitable first goal.
It wasn’t until the second period the Rebels finally got on the board. Forward Dwayne Jean Jr. tapped in his fourth of the year off a rebound in front of the net.
Head coach Steve Konowalchuk said he was proud of his team because the win didn’t come easy.
“Give Edmonton credit I thought they played hard as well. They were in shot lanes and they certainly made us work for our chances and our guys stuck with it,” he said.
“Games that go down the stretch they get tighter and tighter. Every team gets better structured every team starts grinding it out better and better. You have to be ready to win that way and we had different guys stepping up.”
The Rebels bench boss explained it was nice to see Jean Jr. rewarded for his hard work with a goal and added forward Craig Armstrong has played great hockey the last month.
“It was a hard-fought victory and you have to win some like that,” Konowalchuk said.
The Oil Kings got the equalizer just under a minute later but the tie was shortlived. Not long after Grubbe put the home team back on top 2-1 after a pass from the captain in front was redirected off a skate into the net.
In the final period, the Oil Kings tied it up again to set up an electric finish in the Centrium.
With a minute and a half left in the game, forward Kai Uchacz forced a turnover in the offensive zone. After a pass out front was left in the slot, forward Kalan Lind charged the net and buried the opportunity as the building erupted in cheers.
Lind was noticeably fired up and in the moment celebrated by signalling a good goal call.
“A little bit of an excessive celebration for a couple of goals called off today,” Lind said after the game. “Two years in a row we didn’t get to score last year and this year we get a goal called off on it.”
“It’s pretty cool. We haven’t had fans like that quite as much this year but we got a big one tonight.”
Soon after Uchacz fired in an empty net to seal the deal for the Rebels’ second straight win.
“It was quite the game we had to stick right with it right to the end,” Lind added. “Maybe they’re not at the top of the standings but they’re still going to be a tough team to play. They’re probably our biggest rivals in the WHL.”
Rebels goaltender Rhett Stoesser finished with 19 saves meanwwhile Oil Kings Kolby Hay made 24 saves between the pipes.
Central Alberta’s team will head to Edmonton on Saturday for a rematch with the Oil Kings at 7 p.m.