Giants 3 Rebels 2 (OT)
VANCOUVER — Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter was looking for a more disciplined performance from his club heading into Tuesday’s Western Hockey League meeting with the Vancouver Giants.
The Rebels ran into penalty trouble in their previous two meetings — back-to-back home-ice losses to the Lethbridge Broncos (in a shootout) and Tri-City Americans — and Sutter knew that trend couldn’t continue if his team was to open a four-game B.C. Division trip on a positive note.
The Rebels were well-behaved, allowing just three Vancouver power plays, but their own man-advantage units came up dry at the worst times in a 3-2 overtime loss.
Cain Franson tipped a shot by past Rebels netminder Patrik Bartosak 4:20 into the extra frame to lift the Giants to victory before 4,615 fans at the Pacific Coliseum.
“We were certainly better in that (discipline) department but we needed to get more out of our power play tonight,” said Sutter, pointing to two and half minutes of fruitless five-on-three man-advantage play the Rebels enjoyed during the game.
Conner Bleackley forced the overtime with his 24th goal of the season — on Red Deer’s lone successful power play — at 15:47 of the third period.
The Giants led 1-0 after one period on a goal by defenceman Dmitry Osipov and increased their lead to 2-0 when Thomas Foster potted his seventh of the season at 12:48 of the middle frame.
Aspen Sterzer got the visitors on the board just under four minutes later, setting the stage for a third period in which the Rebels outshot their hosts 11-8 while creating several top-flight scoring chances.
“We made a good push in the third period and it’s just disappointing that we didn’t get two points out of it,” said Sutter. “But we’ll take the one point and move on.”
Bartosak finished with 27 saves, while Lee turned aside 26 shots. Red Deer was one-for-six on the power play. The Giants were zero-for-three with a man advantage.
The 27-22-13 Rebels are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, just one point back of the Regina Pats and two behind the Kootenay Ice and Swift Current Broncos.
Red Deer is seven points clear of the ninth-place Prince Albert Raiders, who downed the visiting Broncos 5-2 Tuesday.
The Rebels continue their B.C. Division swing tonight against the Kelowna Rockets, then head to Prince George for Friday and Saturday meetings with the Cougars.
Red Deer’s next home game is next Wednesday versus the Medicine Hat Tigers.