Broncos 5 Rebels 4 (SO)
The Red Deer Rebels owned the puck through the vast majority of the contest, but the Swift Current Broncos got the last laugh Friday night at the Centrium.
Despite being outshot 46-22, the Broncos got a deciding shootout goal from Jon Martin and pulled out a 5-4 WHL win in front of 5,878 fans.
“We dominated the game, we had the puck 80 per cent of the night,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, whose club hosts the Everett Silvertips tonight. “We had some quality chances, especially in the third period, but we didn’t capitalize on enough of them.”
The lone goal the Rebels potted in the third, on a blast from Colton Bobyk from the top of the circle at 14:15, forced a scoreless overtime frame. Ivan Nikolishin beat former Rebels goalie Taz Burman to open the shootout, but the next four Red Deer players fired blanks.
Jamal Watson, and then Martin, with the winner, were the Swift Current marksmen in the skills competition.
While Burman stood tall in the Broncos net, blocking 42 shots, the Rebels got a less-than-impressive performance from their starting netminder. Rylan Toth allowed four goals on 12 shots through two periods before being replaced by Trevor Martin at the start of the third stanza.
With Toth struggling, the Rebels — who were coming off a six-for-six penalty-killing effort in Wednesday’s 6-2 win over visiting Moose Jaw — gave up two man-advantage markers Friday.
“Tother has been really good for us and I thought he didn’t have one of his better games tonight,” said Sutter. “Again, your best penalty killer is always your goalie.”
Rebels forward Adam Musil opened the scoring 7:08 into the contest, busting to the net and finishing off a nifty three-way passing play with Evan Polei and Ivan Nikolishin, who fed Musil.
Former Rebel Austin Adamson pulled the visitors even three minutes later, chipping a backhand past Toth on an odd-man break.
The Rebels enjoyed a three-minute power play early in the second period due to a boarding major assessed to another former teammate, Lane Pederson, late in the first. Two minutes of the penalty were erased due to a roughing call on Musil.
Instead of cashing in, the Rebels allowed a short-handed goal when Michael Spacek turned the puck over at the Broncos blueline and Red Deer native Scott Feser and Calvin Spencer headed up ice on a two-on-one that culminated in Spencer’s first of two goals on the evening.
Adam Helewka scored near the end of the major penalty two minutes later, cashing a feed from Nikolishin, but the Broncos were back in front in short order on a man-advantage marker from Glenn Gawdin.
“When you play a team like this, they wait for chances and force you to turn pucks over,” said Sutter. “We made some critical turnovers in the first two periods that cost us goals against.”
Conner Bleackley’s 13th goal of the season at 10:59 of the period — on a give-and-go with Spacek — made it a 3-3 game, but Spencer potted a power-play marker at 16:41, beating Toth high to short side while breaking in from the wing.
“I didn’t like the short-handed goal they (Broncos) got on him (Toth) and I certainly didn’t like the last power-play goal they got on him either,” said Sutter.
Martin faced only eight shots in the third period, but played a huge role in keeping it a one-goal game when he denied Gawdin on a penalty shot.
“He’s a battler,” Sutter said of Martin. “Tother had a tough night, he wasn’t good enough. Tother understood it, I talked to him after the second period and he knew he didn’t have a good night. I told him I was changing goaltenders and Marty went in and battled … he played well.
“That was a big save on the penalty shot to keep us within one and we were able to capitalize later.”
The loss was Red Deer’s second to the Broncos — well back in the Eastern Conference standings with 15 wins — in a week. Swift Current took advantage of a late turnover to defeat the visiting Rebels 2-1 last Saturday.
“It just goes to show the little mistakes that have been costing us, especially against this team,” said Bleackley. “We obviously dominated the game and it’s pretty frustrating to not come out with two points, but at the same time we can’t fault our effort.
“The effort was good and we’ll take the point. We have a game in less than 24 hours and we have to move on.”
Other than the giveaways and Toth’s struggles, Sutter didn’t detect any negatives in his club’s play.
“We worked, played hard and competed,” said the Rebels boss. “When you have the puck most of the night you should win the game, but you can’t make those turnovers we had that cost us at the end of the night.”