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Rebels set franchise attendance record in 6-5 OT win over Pats

Bedard had three points but Rebels victorious
Red Deer Rebels forward Frantisek Formanek just misses the net on a two-on-one rush against the Regina Pats Tuesday night at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Tuesday night was a special night at the Peavey Mart Centrium.

At a game everyone came to see the projected first overall pick in the upcoming NHL draft Connor Bedard and the Regina Pats, Red Deer Rebels forward Jhett Larson was the hero.

In front of a franchise record-setting crowd of 7,287 Tuesday night, Larson scored in overtime to lift the Rebels to a 6-5 win over the Pats.

“It felt really good,” Larson told the media postgame on Tuesday. “We really needed this win to go, especially as we’re going on the road soon and we played our hearts out tonight.”

When Larson notched the overtime winner the home crowd erupted into a frenzy. Larson explained the experience was “unreal.”

“You never felt like you were out of the game at all because the crowd was with you. They really gave us energy at the end of that game,” he said.

The new Rebels’ attendance benchmark breaks a seven-year record that was set on March 19, 2016, against Edmonton when Red Deer hosted 7,208 fans.

Head coach Steve Konowalchuk said it was an exciting game to be a part of.

“I think we’ll see a lot of those types of games down the stretch here with teams fighting for playoff positions and playoff spots,” he said.

He also gave credit to Larson for his goal but also his overall game.

“When he was out there he was jumping on every loose puck using his quickness and creating havoc. He would have been a pain in the butt to play against all game,” Konowalchuk said. “It’s good for him to get rewarded.”

The Rebels got off to a quick start in the first period scoring twice in the first couple of minutes.

The first came 1:10 into the opening frame off the stick of forward Ben King who buried a one-timer off a pass into the slot.

A minute and a half later, a clearing attempt by the Pats ricocheted off Rebels forward Kai Uchacz who was cutting toward the net on the powerplay.

Pats forward Borya Valis got Regina on the board at the five-minute mark to bring them within a goal.

Red Deer answered at the midway point of the period when Craig Armstrong notched his sixth of the year to take a 3-1 lead.

With approximately six minutes left in the first, Bedard ensured the sold-out crowd got their money’s worth. He snuck behind the Rebels’ defence for a breakaway where he deked and placed the puck top shelf for his 43rd goal of the year to cut into the lead before the end of the period.

Bedard finished with three points but overall the Rebels did the best they can to contain him.

“He’s going to get points,” Konowalchuk said. “I didn’t like the way we gave up his goal. The guys who played against him all night did a heck of a job, there’s no doubt about it. The first goal though we could have been a little bit smarter.

“You can’t give that kind of a chance against really anybody, let alone him.”

Konowalchuk liked his teams effort in the first period despite a few breakdowns defensively.

“The first period was pretty good. [There were] a couple of breakdowns that you would not like to do but we wanted to be a little sharper on the penalty kill early,” he said.

A minute and a half into the second period the Pats tied the game 3-3 when Bedard fed an open Alexander Suzdalev off a beautiful saucer pass.

A minute later Rebels forward Jayden Grubbe potted his 14th tally of the year before Regina tied the game 4-4 again 20 seconds after the captain’s goal.

At the midway point, Regina took the lead 5-4 before the end of the period scored by Valis for his second of the night off the pass from Bedard.

King scored his second of the game seven minutes into the final period to tie it 5-5 off a beautiful shot that went just under the crossbar.

No one else would reach the back of the net until overtime when Larson fired it into the back of the net.

Rebels goaltender Rhett Stoesser finished with 17 saves in the effort. Next up for Red Deer will be a two week road trip in the United States starting in Spokane on Saturday.

Red Deer Rebels forward Kai Uchacz heads towards the net against the Regina Pats Tuesday night at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)
Regina Pats phenom Connor Beard sneaks behind Rebels Craig Armstrong to score on a breakaway in the first period of WHL action at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

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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