Rebels 4 Hitmen 3 (SO)
LACOMBE — It shouldn’t have come as any surprise to see the Red Deer Rebels heading into a shootout in their final game of the Western Hockey League exhibition season against the Calgary Hitmen Saturday.
After all the Red Deer crew needed a shootout to decide three of their first five games, so when Calgary’s Mackenzie Royer scored with 4:48 remaining in the third period to tie the score at 3-3 it was almost expected.
And Brett Ferguson played the role of hero, scoring the only goal of the shootout for a 4-3 victory. It was the third shootout win and second over the Hitmen in the preseason. It gave the Rebels a 5-0-1 record in exhibition play.
Ferguson, who has been money in the shootout, was the last of the three Red Deer shooters and put the puck in off the left shoulder of Calgary netminder Michael Snider. Red Deer goaltender Kraymer Barnstable preserved the victory, stopping Red Deer native Chase Schaber.
The Rebels opened the scoring when Jesse Mireau stole the puck at the Calgary blueline and deked Snider while on the power play.
However, the Hitmen grabbed a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes. Matt Mackenzie tied the score at 12:46 when Barnstable came out to stop a shoot-in and the puck took a bad deflection off the boards and found the empty net.
Former Rebel Cody Gross made it 2-1 while shorthanded at 17:31.
Turner Elson evened the count for the Rebels at 4:51 of the middle stanza, one-timing a pass from Adam Kambeitz, and Alex Petrovic gave Red Deer a 3-2 lead at 9:24 of the third period finishing off a nifty four-way passing play while on the power play.
Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin felt the team has played better, but was still pleased.
“It’s a big win,” he said. “We weren’t very good in the first period but started to get things going in the second. As I told the guys in the room we found a way to win and that’s what it’s all about. We’re done with the preseason and head toward the regular season Friday and we want to win games. I’d much rather play average and win than play great and lose.”
Rebels finished with 30 shots on Snider while Barnstable made 22 saves.