Rebels 6 ICE 5
Are you not entertained?
That was the famous line delivered by Russell Crowe in Gladiator and it was an apt descriptor for the battle at the Centrium Friday night.
From the sharp-looking baby blue jerseys the Rebels were sporting in support of the Kidney Foundation, to the return of former Rebel Dawson Barteaux and of course, the goals, all the goals.
There was simply no shortage of drama in the battle between Rebels and the Winnipeg ICE.
Five third-period goals, four lead changes and a wild 6-5 victory for the home side in the most electric game at the Centrium this season, in front of 4,557 fans.
“Certainly had a little bit of everything in it,” summarized Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter.
“It was one team having momentum and then the other. Just back and forth all night. I told the kids, we were resilient, we kept pushing and hey, they’re a very good team. They can be offensively explosive. We found a way to score goals and when you score six goals, you hope you’re gonna win the game. It’s a great win.”
ICE forward Peyton Krebs, a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, had four assists for the visitors and was a force, while Rebels rookie Jace Isley had a pair of tallies and an assist to earn first star honours on the night.
“It was awesome. He’s worked hard,” said Sutter about Isley.
“He’s like all our young players, they’ve grown through the year and gotten better and learned our league and how to play in the league. The importance of focus, preparation and getting ready to play… he’s continued to improve and eventually the hockey gods will take care of you.”
Heading into the third period, the Rebels held a 3-2 lead but it didn’t last long.
Just 3:07 seconds into the frame, Owen Pederson tied the game at three with an assist from Krebs, his third of the game.
Jackson Leppard scored 1:32 later to give the visitors the lead and the Rebels were back on their heels momentarily.
That was until Keaton Sorensen delivered the tying goal 48 seconds later and then it was Josh Tarzwell who gave the Rebels a 5-4 lead 2:01 after that.
Then, some time to breathe.
On a Rebels power play with 7:29 to go, Rebels captain Ethan Sakowich blasted his ninth of the season to open up a 6-4 lead.
Once again, the ICE didn’t go away quietly, as former Rebel Dawson Barteaux victimized his old club with the net empty, an absolute snipe on Byron Fancy to get his side within one.
Winnipeg threw everything they had at the Rebels in the dying minutes, but Fancy stood tall and got a little help from his post to preserve the victory.
“We stuck with it, even if we made the last two, two and a half minutes interesting. Everyone was on the edge of their seats and the kids seemed to handle it okay, so that’s good, too,” Sutter added.
Early in the first, Michael Teply converted a nice pass from Krebs for his 20th goal of the year.
Late in the frame after a faceoff, Isley dug a puck out of the corner and drove to the net, before chipping in his third goal of the year.
The ICE got the lead back just 17 seconds into the second. They had a five-on-three to start the period, but just after the first penalty expired, Issac Johnson beat Byron Fancy clean from the slot.
Isley brought Rebels even with another great individual effort, winning a battle down low and banking the puck off Liam Hughes from just below the goal line. It was the first career two-goal game for the 17-year-old Grande Prairie product.
“I thought it was just luck at the start, just a couple of good bounces went my way, it was a good game,” he said.
Arshdeep Bains picked up his fourth point in his last two games just two minutes later, firing a shot off Ben King’s skate and in. The goal was King’s 11th of the season.
With the third period goal, Barteaux finished the night with a goal and an assist, and the former captain was also honoured at the second-period break with a standing ovation.
Fancy made 27 saves in the win, while Hughes stopped 23 shots in the loss for Winnipeg.
The Rebels are on the road Saturday afternoon in Calgary at 1:30 p.m., before hosting the Lethbridge Hurricanes at the Centrium on Feb. 5.