The Red Deer Rebels minimized the weekend damage courtesy of an overtime goal from captain Colin Archer at roughly 9:30 p.m. on Saturday night in Cranbrook, B.C.
Archer’s timely marker, his second of the season, gave the Rebels a 4-3 win over Kootenay and cut the Ice’s weekend gain to a single point.
The Rebels were horrid in a 4-1 loss to their Central Division foes on Friday night and a Saturday evening setback would have left the Red Deer crew looking up at their Kootenay counterparts. Instead, the Rebels lost just a single point to the Ice during a weekend in which they could have given themselves a five-point lead over the B.C.-based contingent.
“Losing both games certainly would have been tough,” Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin said on Sunday evening, stopping short of labelling a potential Kootenay sweep as a disaster.
“But we got a good response last night. Friday was also a big game for us and for whatever reason we turned in a disappointing performance,” added Wallin, who had just nicely arrived in Kamloops, where his team will continue its five-game road trip on Tuesday versus the Blazers.
“Maybe with a week between games and a couple good days of practice, we thought we were ready to go. But for whatever reason we didn’t give the effort that we wanted to give, but we responded well to that last night.”
The Rebels were down 1-0 just four minutes into the contest on a power-play marker by Ice ace Dustin Sylvester, but battled back and pulled even with Willie Coetzee’s 10th of the campaign just over two minutes later.
Sylvester connected again at 6:25 of the middle stanza, but Coetzee beat netminder Todd Mathews once more, his second tally of the night coming five minutes after the Rebels had fallen behind a second time.
“The key was we didn’t give up that easy, soft goal to make it 2-0 or 3-0 (for the Ice). We were able to get right back into the game both times we gave up the lead,” said Wallin.
Part of that was Coetzee, part was netminder Kraymer Barnstable, who replaced No. 1 stopper Darcy Kuemper in the second period of Friday’s setback, and part was the overall contribution of the Rebels veterans.
“We battled harder last night and it was more of a team effort. We got a complete effort from everyone,” said Wallin. “The older guys gave us more. They got their noses a little dirtier, got off the perimeter and into the tougher areas of the rink and played both ends of the ice.”
Second-year forward Brett Ferguson gave the Rebels a 3-2 advantage late in the middle stanza, only to have Kootenay’s Kevin King notch a short-handed equalizer with three minutes remaining in the third period.
That’s right, short-handed . . . a goal that would normally sink a visiting team with overtime looming.
“There were times throughout the game where we faced adversity,” said Wallin. “But we were able to bend and not break, and we got the saves when we needed them. It was huge to pull ourselves up in the second period and again going into the third.
“We played well in the third period, limited their opportunities and despite giving up the late goal, again we didn’t break. It’s funny, when your group is committed to playing both ends of the rink and has everybody going, you have confidence that you can win a hockey game. And we felt that way last night, even when they got that third goal.”
Barnstable, who surrendered one goal on Friday and turned aside 27 shots 24 hours later, might be called upon for a third consecutive game.
“There’s a good chance he’ll get to play Tuesday,” said Wallin. “Your goaltender has to give you a chance to win and ‘Barney’ did that for us last night.”