Rebels 2 Winterhawks 1 (SO)
The Houdini act continues.
The Red Deer Rebels, for the third consecutive outing, were outshot and outplayed and — presto — wriggled off the hook and posted a 2-1 Western Hockey League shootout win over the Portland Winterhawks Saturday before a gathering of 4,864 at the Centrium.
Colten Mayor, Red Deer’s sixth man up in the shootout, put a nifty inside-out move on Portland netminder Brendan Burke for a go-ahead marker, and when Patrik Bartosak turned back Joe Morrow on the next attempt, the Rebels had their eighth win of the season.
How the Rebels got to a scoreless overtime and then the shootout session was, of course, the story. Beat to the puck most of the night and outshot 33-20 in regulation time, the Rebels simply found a way to succeed for a third time in five nights.
“We’re getting good at winning ugly,” said Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin, whose positive comments pretty much ended there.
“Our start to the game was OK and we were better tonight than last night (in a 3-2 win over visiting Moose Jaw), but we still didn’t have our execution and just not enough sense of urgency, not enough bearing down on pucks and not enough urgency on our forecheck,” he continued.
The clubs battled through a scoreless opening period in which the visitors held a 12-7 advantage in shots, setting up a second stanza in which the ‘Hawks potted the lone goal, Brendan Leipsic beating Bartosak with a one-timer from the high slot with Rebels forward Turner Elson off for tripping.
The Rebels, to their credit, carried the play early in the third period and were quickly rewarded as rookie defenceman Stephen Hak moved in from the point, took a feed from Elson and found an open spot in Burke’s equipment.
“I still can’t believe it,” said Hak of his first-ever WHL goal. “I still can’t really remember what happened. I know I got a pass right on my stick and just shot it.
“I’m not at all a goal scorer.”
But he connected when the Rebels needed a boost in the biggest way. Hello, Houdini.
“The best part of our game was probably the first five to six minutes of the third period,” said Wallin. “We scored a goal by getting in on the forecheck and moving our feet. For those five or six minutes we were relentless, we were getting in on the forecheck and creating pressure.
“But that was the only six minutes of the night that we did that. I would have liked to see us have more urgency, more pace and more poise with the puck just making stick to stick passes coming out of our zone.
“When you do that it makes life a lot easier. I thought we just battled the puck too much tonight.”
• After allowing a goal to Portland’s first shooter — Derek Pouliot — Bartosak turned back attempts by the next five hopefuls.
Daulton Siwak beat Mac Carruth, who replaced Burke, on the Rebels’ first attempt. Burke then faced the next five Red Deer shooters.
• The Rebels are idle until Wednesday when they face the Kootenay Ice at Cranbrook. Red Deer hosts the Everett Silvertips 48 hours later.
– copyright Red Deer Advocate