With a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a win against the Winnipeg Ice, the Red Deer Rebels came up just short.
After Red Deer tied the game in the second period the Ice took the lead in the final period to secure the 2-1 victory.
The Rebels pulled their goalie in the final minutes of the game and had their fair share of opportunities but couldn’t buy a goal when they needed it.
Head coach Steve Konowalchuk said despite the loss his team put up a good fight.
“That’s more of what we were looking for,” he said.
“That kind of effort that’s what our guys want to take pride on. I thought the effort was there from start to finish. We had the goalie pulled and chances to tie there if we execute so we were right there.
“Frustrating but the first thing was we had to get the effort back to where we needed it. I thought today was a step in the right direction and we’ve got to keep building on that.”
Winnipeg scored the lone goal of the opening period at the midway point off the stick of Zack Ostapchuk.
The Rebels had plenty of opportunities to tie the game in the first including at least three golden chances on the powerplay.
Red Deer got their first goal 11 seconds into the second period. Forward Jhett Larson found Jace Isley alone in front and sniped a shot on the far side.
Both teams went back and forth for the rest of the period but Rebels goaltender Kyle Kelsey stood on his head and closed the door on a number of opportunities.
Kelsey had himself a great game finishing with 29 saves on 31 shots. He also prevented the Ice from scoring on all four powerplay opportunities.
“He made some big saves. They’re a good hockey team over there your goalie’s going to have to make some big saves. You can play pretty solid hockey but they’re going to get the odd chance. He certainly made some big saves for us,” he said.
Red Deer also struggled on the powerplay failing to score on the man advantage on five chances.
The Ice reclaimed the lead just over four minutes into the third period when Matthew Savoie potted the game-winner.
With the loss, the WHL’s best Winnipeg Ice has swept the season series against Red Deer 4-0.
The Rebels will have an opportunity to clinch with a win against the Kelowna Rockets Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the Peavey Mart Centrium.
“The backchecking, stripping pucks, helping out the defence and forechecking. All those things that are hard-working type things it was good,” he said.
“It was much better than last game and we want to keep building on that.”