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Rebels third-period push falls short in Game 2

Game 3 will be in Red Deer
Red Deer Rebels forward Evan Smith battles for the puck against Medicine Hat Tigers defenceman Bogdans Hodass in WHL action. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Tigers 3

Rebels 1

The Red Deer Rebels made a big push in the third period but came up short in a 3-1 loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

Trailing 3-0 in the third period the Rebels outshot their opponents 18-3 which led to a goal from Ollie Josephson.

However, Tigers goaltender Zach Zahara had a big night making 30 saves in his Western Hockey League playoff debut.

His efforts prevented Red Deer from making another comeback like they did in Game 1 when they erased a four-goal deficit to win in double overtime.

With the Tigers’ victory, they evened up the best-of-seven first-round series 1-1.

Head coach Dave Struch said they needed to use their experience from Game 1 but didn’t use it to their advantage.

“It put us behind the eight ball early and we didn’t have the same success as we did last night in the second half,” he said.

“I think we have to get our mindset focused on playoff hockey and taking in one game at a time. We’re playing against a good team we have to rise to that challenge every game. We just have to move on and get ready for the next game.”

The Tigers, who looked to bounce back quickly from Saturday night’s setback to the Rebels, answered the bell early.

Tigers rookie forward Gavin McKenna scored just 21 seconds into the game when he buried an opportunity on the rebound off a shot from Hunter St. Martin.

He notched the lone goal of the period that was won by the Tigers who led the way with 11 shots to Red Deer’s six on net.

In the second period, the Rebels were awarded a 5-on-3 powerplay but they were unable to convert.

Shortly after, the Tigers were awarded their third powerplay of the evening, and just as it expired defenceman Reid Andresen fired it past Rebels netminder Chase Wutzke.

Rebels nearly got on the board midway through the period but defenceman Mats Lindgren rang a shot off the post. Defenceman Quentin Bourne was also robbed by Zahara who made a big glove save.

Forward Cayden Lindstrom put the Tigers up by three on their fourth powerplay of the night with 4:32 to go in the middle frame when he tipped a point shot from Andrew Basha.

The Rebels made a push in the third period.

Forward Ollie Josephson scored with 13:28 left in the game off the feed from Carson Latimer in the slot. Red Deer continued to pour it on but the Tigers stood tall on home ice.

The Rebels struggled on the powerplay failing to score on four opportunities. On the other side, the Tigers notched one on the man advantage on four opportunities.

“It’s something we’ll have to work on over the next couple of days and get ready for Tuesday night,” Struch added.

Rebels goalie Chase Wutzke got his second straight start in net and he made 23 saves on 26 shots. Second-year netminder Rhett Stoesser has yet to appear in the playoffs and could potentially get the nod on Tuesday night.

Games 3 and 4 will now move to Red Deer on Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Peavey Mart Centrium. Game 5 will then return to Medicine Hat at Co-op Place on Friday.

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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