Evan Polei pulled a rabbit out of a hat while the ice was still wet.
In double overtime, just 48 seconds into the fifth period Wednesday, the Rebels alternate captain evaded two Hurricanes defencemen with nifty deke and fired a wrist shot glove side past Stuart Skinner to close out a wild 4-3 win.
“It was blur I guess,” said the Rebels OT hero after the game three victory in the first round, best-of-seven WHL playoff series.
“I made a move on the D-man and it made nice bounce off his stick and then I just put it upstairs. It was lucky I guess.”
Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter added that the winner from Polei was massive for the team to get a win at home and lead the series 2-1 after three games.
“It’s huge. He moved his feet. He pushed the pace moving past their defencemen and they couldn’t handle him then he made a great shot,” Sutter said.
Lane Zablocki opened the scoring for the Rebels in the first period and was the first hero in the third as he sent the game to overtime with just 19 seconds left.
Early in the first the 19-year-old rocketed a wrist shot past Stuart Skinner and the game-tying goal came as Red Deer pressed with the extra attacker.
Tyler Wong scored his second of the playoffs to tie the game at one at 8:51 of the first.
Brennan Menell gave Lethbridge the lead with just over a minute left in the second period on a wrist shot that fooled Rebels goalie Riley Lamb.
Zak Zaborosky extended the advantage to two goals with his first of the playoffs early in the final frame.
The Rebels squandered back-to-back power play opportunities late in the third down 3-1, but finally found the mark on their third straight chance when Brandon Hagel tracked down a rebound and slid it home for his second of the playoffs.
“Fairly well played game,” Sutter said.
“Obviously they were up 3-1 late in the game and we got a couple power plays and we didn’t capitalize. The next one we got and took a timeout and talked about some different things. Then you pull your goalie and you tie the game up. You get into overtime and anything can happen.”
Michael Spacek almost ended the game with about four minutes left in the first overtime when Hagel found his centreman trailing the play and the forward from Czech Republic out waited Skinner on his backhand but found clanked the iron.
“Both teams had chances in that first overtime. Obviously it happened quickly in the second one,” Sutter said.
“We’ll take the victory no question. We’ll reset tomorrow and get ready for game four.”
Lamb made 49 saves in the Red Deer net and Skinner finished with 45 saves for Lethbridge.
Game four goes in Red Deer Thursday, with puck drop set for 7 p.m.