Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT)
RED DEER– The Red Deer Rebels picked up a key divisional win over the Calgary Hitmen on Wednesday at the Centrium.
After giving up the game-tying goal with just 5:03 remaining in regulation, the Rebels earned a big two points in the 3-2 overtime win.
Hitmen defenceman Vladislav Yeryomenko tripped Brandon Hagel with 35 seconds left into overtime and the Rebels power play found the mark for the second time in the game on the advantage.
Captain Grayson Pawlenchuk connected with Reese Johnson on a cross-ice pass and Johnson blasted the one-timer past Nick Schneider with 2:48 left in OT.
The goal was Johnson’s goal 20th of the year but first in the last six games.
“I carried in there just to get it set up and I was yelling for Pawly, we have been practising that lots and he made an awesome pass,” Johnson said.
Red Deer has just eight games remaining, including two more against the Kootenay Ice and one more against the Hitmen.
The Rebels went 9-3-1-o in February after the win Wednesday.
After an Ice loss to the Moose Jaw Warriors Wednesday, the win put the Rebels six points up on Kootenay for third in the division with a game in hand.
“Hard fought game. We had lots of opportunities offensively, we just didn’t bury our chances,” Rebels GM/ head coach Brent Sutter said.
“They made a good play on the tying goal. But it was was a tight checking game. Overall, I’m happy with two points. This time of the year, points are big. We had some quality scoring chances, we just didn’t capitalize on them. We have to get better at that.”
Mason McCarty sniped his 34th goal of the year with a blast high over the shoulder of Schneider midway through the first.
Chris Douglas extended the Red Deer advantage late in the first on the power play.
The Rebels second-year forward drove wide around a Hitmen defender and fired a backhand on net. After the initial shot was turned aside, Douglas poked the rebound in for his eighth goal of the year.
The six-foot, 171-pound winger from Richmond, B.C. had a strong game on Wednesday, including a great individual effort that led to a great scoring chance on the power play in the third period.
“Dougie played well. I thought that line played well. It was an energy line for us. They spend a lot of time in the offensive zone,” said Sutter of the Douglas, Arshdeep Bains and Brandon Cutler line.
Calgary tied the game at two on just their fourth shot of the third period after a gorgeous play from Jacob Stukel.
The right winger drove wide past a Rebels defenceman and nearly converted a wraparound on Riley Lamb. The rebound bounced right to Conner Chaulk who buried his 15th goal of the year.
Riley Lamb had to make only 18 saves in the win but picked up his ninth straight victory with the performance.
It will be a key four-point divisional game on Friday when the Rebels host the ice with puck drop set for 7 p.m. at the Centrium.