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Rebels look to close out series in Game 5

Elimination game on the road
Red Deer Rebels forward Kalan Lind celebrates after scoring the game winning goal against the Medicine Hat Tigers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Wednesday evening at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Taylor Lachance/ Red Deer Rebels)

Around 15 years ago legendary Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant delivered a quote in the NBA Finals that’s stuck in the minds of fans ever since.

With a series lead in the finals, a reporter asked why he seemed unhappy despite leading the series. He responded the only way he deemed necessary.

“What’s there to be happy about? Job’s not finished.”

The fifth-seeded Red Deer Rebels against all odds have a 3-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals over the fourth-seeded Medicine Hat Tigers.

On Friday night in Medicine Hat, the Rebels will get the opportunity to close out the best-of-seven series in Game 5 at Co-op Place.

Red Deer should know better than anybody the importance of closing out a series sooner rather than later.

Just last season they finished on the wrong side of history after blowing a 3-0 series lead to the Saskatoon Blades in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

This time around the Rebels are a more experienced team. In fact, they’re the second most experienced club when it comes to playoff games played.

They’ve also came up clutch when it matters most including Kalan Lind’s game-winner in double overtime in Game 1. He also lifted the Rebels to a 3-2 victory in Game 4 over the Tigers on Wednesday with a last-second goal.

“We’ve got a resilient group. We’ve got one of the hardest working groups, if not the hardest working group in this league and the CHL,” Lind said on Wednesday after the game.

“Everyone works their butts off every single night and does everything they can to contribute to the team. [Everyone] plays their role so well on this team and we’re just so happy to have such a great group of guys in this room.”

The series between the two central division rivals has been extremely tight and has yet to disappoint in terms of entertainment value.

Despite holding a 3-1 lead, the Rebels have only held a lead in the first four games for a total of five minutes.

In Game 3, they led for 4:15 before the Tigers tied it sending it to overtime where Samuel Drancak scored to give the Rebels a 4-3 victory.

And in Game 4 the Rebels held a lead for a combined 45 seconds and ultimately Lind scored with 1.7 seconds to win 3-2 in regulation.

Lind has led the way for the Rebels with five points (2g, 3a) in four games followed by Carson Latimer (3g, 1a) and Ollie Josephson (2g, 2a) with four points.

Latimer and Jhett Larson have also each notched a shorthanded goal.

“All the pressure is on us now,” Lind added. “They’re fighting for their lives. They’re going to be coming out and pushing as hard as they can.

“They’ve got a really good hockey team over there. We’ve seen it the whole series… We’re going to come into that game ready to go just like we were tonight. Even though we were good tonight I think we’ve got better in us still.”

The Rebels certainly know they can win on the road in Medicine Hat.

They proved that after they erased a four-goal deficit to win 5-4 in double overtime in Game 1.

Lind explained it was important for them, especially the young players, to get that experience of playing in enemy territory in the postseason.

“It was a great atmosphere and the fans there are great… We’ve got experience now under us and we’re hoping to go in there and get the same results as Game 1.”

When asked what they need to do to get the job done on Friday Interim head coach Dave Struch said they’ll have to play the same way but better.

“When you look at our experience we can take some past experiences from past years in the amount of games we’ve played. But I think we need to learn from the experience we’ve had in these first four games,” he said.

“We can bottle up the energy, take the positives, and build on it every game. I think that’s one thing that we’ve done here.”

If the Tigers come out on top on Friday, they’ll return to Red Deer on Sunday to play Game 6 at 2 p.m. at the Peavey Mart Centrium.

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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