A win finally looked signed, sealed and delivered for the Red Deer Rebels Tuesday night at the Centrium.
With 5-1 lead after 40 minutes and the Rebels firmly in the driver’s seat over the Brandon Wheat Kings, it all came to a crashing down.
The Rebels allowed four goals in the third period and the overtime winner with 11 seconds left, heading over the 6-5 victory to the Wheat Kings.
The third period collapse has been a calling card for Red Deer this year and the Rebels bench boss is running out of answers.
“When you play 40 minutes the right way and don’t play 20 minutes the right way against a good hockey team, that stuff happens to you,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said.
“Obviously the third period was a meltdown. Our defence was non-existent in the third period. To a man, we couldn’t make a pass, our defence was backing in. Forwards weren’t forechecking. It was like we were happy being up 5-1 and we quit playing.”
Stelio Mattheos hit on a real back breaker with under two minutes to play and the Rebels on the power play, scoring short-handed to tie the game at five. Mattheos also had the OT winner and was the first star in the game.
“you give up a short-handed goal on the power play, you use two defenceman in the last two and a half minutes just to make sure you don’t give up that scoring chance,” Sutter said.
“Guy walks right into the slot and scores. Yet for 40 minutes, we had a lot of good players. For 20 minutes we had a lot of bad players.”
The Wheat Kings won their 16th game of the year and sixth in their last seven, while the Rebels earned a single point – it was their 11th loss in November and the 12th in the last 13. Sutter said it’s been the same old story with his club all season long.
“Lack of composure in the third and a lot of mistakes. Soft plays and we spent a lot of time in our own zone in the third,” Sutter said.
“All you have to do is keep going. That’s where you have to dig in and understand you want to finish that off the right way. It’s not something we’re just talking about, we’ve been a 40-minute team all year. I can’t can’t count on two fingers when we’ve played 60 minutes this year. It’s tough. Some of those goals, you just say wow, how can that happen? But it does.”
After falling behind 1-0 in the first, Kristian Reichel opened the scoring for the Rebels on the power play with a great pass from Brandon Hagel late in the frame.
Mason McCarty helped the Rebels jump ahead 2-1, 37 seconds into the second with his team leading 14th goal of the season. Lane Zablocki ripped a goal low blocker past Wheat Kings goalie Dylan Myskiw on a 2-on-1, before Reese Johnson scored twice to give the Rebels a firm handle on the contest.
Goals from Connor Gutenberg and Evan Weinger 79 seconds apart in the third forced Sutter to call a timeout, but Cole Reinhardt brought Brandon back within one with under seven minutes to play in the frame
Riley Lamb maded 27 saves in the game but allowed four goals on nine shots in the third. He turned aside six of seven shots in OT.
The Rebels will look to rebound Friday when they welcome the Regina Pats to town with puck drop set for 7 p.m. at the Centrium.