Brandon Hagel of the Red Deer Rebels and Colby Williams of the Regina Pats battle for the puck along the boards during first period WHL playoff action at the Enmax Centrium in Red Deer

Rebels take 2-0 series lead

Winning two one-goal games back-to-back is a confidence booster. But the way the Red Deer Rebels pulled out the wins over the weekend, brought out the grit it takes to succeed in Western Hockey League playoffs.

Rebels 4 Pats 3 (Sunday)

Rebels 3 Pats 2 (Saturday)

Winning two one-goal games back-to-back is a confidence booster.

But the way the Red Deer Rebels pulled out the wins over the weekend, brought out the grit it takes to succeed in Western Hockey League playoffs.

Game two was truly a battle as no team led by more than one goal and there were solid chances at both ends of the ice.

“It was one of those games where you’d get up a goal and they were able to even it up,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “We scored some big power play goals, as did they. Yet really, the key point in the game was like last night, killing penalties.”

The back and forth game came down an Adam Musil tip. Musil, standing in front of Pats goalie Tyler Brown, tipped home the winner on a point shot from Josh Mahura. The Rebels 4-3 win over the Regina Pats gives them a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semi-final.

Mahura finished the game with a goal and an assist. The goal was his first of the post season and first since returning from a knee injury that kept him out of the lineup for 70 games.

“I saw Musil push off a defenceman there and threw (the puck) in the area and got a stick on it,” said Mahura.

But it was Martin who kept the Rebels ahead with some big saves in the closing minute, including the game ending save as time expired. With the Pats buzzing 6-on-5, he flashed the leather and snagged the puck out of the air preserving the 3-2 win. Martin made 35 saves.

“I think we would like to have that third one back,” said Sutter. “The rebound got away from him.

“He was solid, he played solid and in the third period he just shut the door and made some big saves. You have to have good goaltending this time of the year.”

WHL leading scorer Adam Brooks and Cole Sanford both tied the game at various points in the game. They also both finished the game with a goal and an assist.

A clutch penalty kill in the third periods held the vaunted Pats power play off the board when Regina needed it the most. With the game tied at 3-3 4:42 into the third period, Hayden Fleury took a double minor for high sticking.

The kill kept the game tied and an interference call on Pats forward Sam Steel allowed the Rebels to set up Musil’s game winning goal.

l The Rebels overcame a sluggish start and two early power play goals to edge the Pats on Saturday.

Evan Polei’s gamewinner came halfway through the third period. Coming in on the right wing, he dodged a hipcheck and had a clear path to the net. From the right hash-marks he sniped it past Brown’s glove side and put the Rebels up 3-2.

“I was thinking about cutting to the middle and putting it low blocker,” said Polei. “But then I thought (Brown) would be cheating that way so I put a quick shot upstairs

“It’s always nice to score a goal. We didn’t start off the came too well, our last half the game was better for sure. It was a nice play by Bobyk.”

Penatly trouble dogged the Rebels in the first period, taking four minors in the frame. The Pats power play capitalized on half of the opportunities to take a 2-0 lead in the first period.

A bizarre goal early in the first put the Pats up 1-0. A point shot from Colby Williams rebounded off of Martin and hung in the air before it bounced off of Kale Doetzel and behind Martin.

The second goal came when Sanford was left alone in front of the net. Musil and Doetzel had gone to make a play on the puck carrier, Brooks, but Sanford was left open. He buried a wrist shot through Martin’s five-hole to put the Pats up 2-0.

A two-goal outburst from the Rebels in the second came courtesy of sustained pressure. After several good chances in the attacking zone, the Pats were called for two minor penalties simultaneously. Robbie Holmes for Hooking and Colby Williams for slashing. This led to a two-minutes five-on-three.

The Rebels capitalized with two goals on the power plays. Adam Helewka struck first, picking up the garbage in from the of the net, dragged the puck to his side of the crease and put it past Brown.

Colton Bobyk connected just 30 seconds later with a slap shot from the point that struck iron, but a fortuitous bounce put it past the crease and evened the score at 2-2.

With home ice advantage held, the Rebels head to Regina for two games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Puck drops at 7 p.m both nights and can be heard on 106.7 the Drive.

Note: Of the 14 goals scored in the series so far, only three have come at even strength.

All six of the Pats goals have come on the power play.

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