Rebels 3 Silvertips 2 (shootout)
It pays off to be prepared.
On Saturday night at the Peavey Mart Centrium, the weight and pressure to get a victory fell on the shoulders Red Deer Rebels’ young goaltender Chase Wutzke after the game went to a shootout.
When overtime solved nothing, Wutzke stood tall and stopped all four shooters to secure a 3-2 victory over the Everett Silvertips in the annual Toque and Teddy Bear Toss game.
Despite it being only his sixth appearance this season, the 17-year-old was fully prepared for his moment in the shootout.
“Every day we’re practicing shootouts and I’m the young guy so I have to be in there and take the most pucks,” he said.
The Rebels failed to score with their first three shooters but in the fourth round, Jhett Larson ended it on a wrist shot.
Wutzke said the team played well in front of him, which made his job easier.
“I didn’t have to make too many saves but at the end, they put the pressure on. I felt really good,” he added. “I’d rather it be just me and one guy and we came out on top.”
Wutzke finished with 22 saves on 24 shots against the Silvertips while visiting netminder Tyler Palmer had a busy night with 40 saves.
Rebels head coach Derrick Walser gave credit to Wutzke who he said always works hard in practice.
“What a great feeling he must feel after that. He stood tall and those were some really good quality shots he faced tonight,” Walser said.
“We had a chat before the game and just told him to be him. Smile, laugh, and giggle. Just stay in the moment and be who you are. He’s a good goalie we all know that.”
With 10 seconds left in the first period, the toques and teddy bears came raining down. Captain Kai Uchacz fired a shot from the left side of the net off a pass from Kalan Lind on the offensive rush.
Everett answered a minute and a half into the second period when Tarin Smith sniped a shot short-side on Wutzke.
Red Deer reclaimed their lead a few minutes later when forward Talon Brigley tipped in a Hunter Mayo shot from the point.
However, with over 12 minutes left in the middle frame, the Silvertips tied it 2-2 off the stick of Beau Courtney in the slot.
Red Deer appeared to take a 3-2 lead when Kalan Lind knocked in a loose puck in the crease but it was immediately waved off after the officials ruled a hand pass.
After a scoreless third period, the two teams headed to overtime where they traded multiple scoring chances. The Rebels faithful held their breath before Larson ended it in the shootout for their sixth win in seven games.
Red Deer was much improved in terms of discipline, which was a problem on Friday night. The Rebels only took one penalty compared to the eight committed the night before.
“We put a challenge to our guys to be physical and smart. Last night we were physical but not so smart. Tonight we were awesome at it,” Walser added.
“It was a good team effort from everybody. Everyone found a way to contribute with the minutes they had and they all bought in. They were willing to do all the little things and we’ll just build on it.”
The Rebels will now head out on a five-game road trip beginning in Brandon against the Wheat Kings on Tuesday, Dec. 5 before heading to Saskatchewan.