The Red Deer Rebels got away with just a point but needed more.
Red Deer outshot the Regina Pats 17-2 in the final 20 minutes Friday, only to fall 3-2 in overtime at the Centrium.
Brandon Hagel was whistled for a hooking call in the extra frame and with three seconds left in the man-advantage, Ryker Evans blasted a one-timer past Ethan Anders to win the game.
On a night when the Rebels finally played a strong third period, not allowing a shot by the Pats until the final minute of the third, they simply couldn’t solve Max Paddock. The Pats netminder finished with 31 stops and carried Regina to the finish line.
“That teams plays hard, they work,” Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said.
“I thought in the third period we made a good push. Their goalie made some big saves. Bad penalty by Hags in overtime, puts you down 4-on-3. It’s a lot tougher killing 4-on-3 than 5-on-4. Again they got two power play goals.”
It was the Rebels fourth loss in a row and sixth in the last eight. One point was simply not enough against a Pats team that sits nearly the bottom of the WHL standings with 15 wins.
It was special teams that was costly for the home side, they allowed two goals shorthanded, including the overtime blast and an easy tap-in for Ty Kolle early in the second.
“Our penalty kill in the last two weeks hasn’t been very good,” Sutter said.
“The two power play goals against –we had chances and we just didn’t capitalize. We just have to find ways to get points. We’ll take the point and move on. Still, we need better from some guys. I thought some guys got better as the game went on and some didn’t.”
One player that improved his play as the night went on was defenceman Alex Alexeyev. He had an immediate impact in his first game back since Jan. 19 after suffering a shoulder injury. Just 95 seconds into the second, he shoveled the puck to Cam Hausinger and the veteran sniped high blocker on Paddock.
“You can tell, it’s pretty obvious,” said Sutter about having his top blueliner back in the fold.
“Puts everybody in the place they should be on the back end. Obviously, he’s one of our top players and when you take that out of your lineup, any team, especially on defence, it affects you.”
Less than a minute later, while Hausinger sat in the penalty box, Brady Pouteau fired across the Rebels’ penalty kill and Ty Kolle tapped it in for Regina’s first goal of the game.
Midway through the second on the power play, Brandon Hagel made Rebels’ history. He put a pass on a tee to Brett Davis and Davis wired a one-timer home. The assist tied Hagel with Arron Asham for the franchise assists mark at 161.
Again the Pats battled back late in the period, when Red Deer lost coverage on Logan Nijhoff in front. Blake Allan slid him the puck and Nijhoff quickly tied the game.
Red Deer had two power plays in the third period but were unable to find the equalizer.
Ethan Anders finished the game with 24 saves in the Rebels net. The three stars were Cam Hausinger (1), Max Paddock (2) and Ryker Evans (3).
Red Deer will host the Moose Jaw Warriors Saturday before a embarking on a five-game road swing through the United States.