Oil Kings 5 Rebels 4 (OT)
(Edmonton leads series 3-0)
It’s win or go home from here on out for the Red Deer Rebels.
A dramatic comeback was spoiled by the Edmonton Oil Kings, as they defeated the Rebels 5-4 in overtime in Game 3 of the WHL Eastern Conference semifinal matchup at the Peavey Mart Centrium Monday night.
Trailing by two with about seven minutes remaining, Red Deer scored twice in just 36 seconds to force overtime. But Edmonton captain Jake Neighbours scored the game-winner to give the Oil Kings a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.
“It’s a tough loss,” said Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk.
“Everybody played until the end. They didn’t give up. … We had a chance. If we get that overtime (goal) we feel a little better, but it is what it is. There’s no time to feel sorry for yourself.”
Oil Kings forward Jalen Luypen provided the perfect screen in front, as his teammate Luke Prokop fired a point shot past Rebels goaltender Connor Ungar to open the scoring at 1:55 of the first period.
Ungar stopped 47 of the 52 shots he faced in his first start of the playoffs Monday night. Chase Coward, who had started Red Deer’s first eight playoff games, was out of the lineup due to an upper-body injury — Justen Maric served as the team’s backup goalie.
Red Deer defencemen Christoffer Sedoff and Jackson Van de Leest also did not play Monday due to injuries.
After being shut out in Games 1 and 2, the Rebels finally scored their first goal of the series about half way through the opening frame in Game 3.
Ben King slid the puck to Arshdeep Bains, who one-timed a shot on net during a Rebels power play. Oil Kings goaltender Sebastian Cossa kicked the shot aside, but former Oil King Liam Keeler banged a rebound in to tie the game at one.
Dylan Guenther scored his seventh of the playoffs, chipping a pass from teammate Carter Souch into the net at 6:32 of the second to retake the lead for Edmonton.
Souch then scored a goal of his own by whipping a wicked wrist shot over Ungar’s shoulder during an Edmonton power play towards the end of the middle frame.
The Rebels were able to get one back before the end of the period. Red Deer forward Kalan Lind cut to the middle of the ice on an odd man rush and beat Cossa with a shot to the glove side. The goal was Lind’s first of the playoffs.
Ungar made a beautiful toe save on Oil King Jakub Demek about five minutes into the third period to keep his team within one.
The Rebels were awarded a power play just a couple of minutes later, but it was the Oil Kings who capitalized. Justin Sourdif stole the puck from Rebels defenceman Kyle Masters at the Red Deer blueline, outwaited Ungar on a semi-breakaway and buried a shorthanded goal on the backhand.
Bains answered back for the Rebels 12:50 into the third, taking a pass from Lind and sliding a low shot past an outstretched Cossa.
It appeared the Oil Kings regained a two-goal lead just 19 seconds later when Kaiden Guhle scored with a shot from the point. But the play was reviewed and it was determined an Edmonton player had played the puck with a high stick, so the goal was overturned.
Rebels forward Jhett Larson got the fans in attendance on their feet just 36 seconds after Bains’ goal, by battling his way to the front of the net and banking a shot off a defender and in.
In overtime, Oil Kings captain Jake Neighbours was sent in on a breakaway and slipped a shot between Ungar’s legs to give his team the win.
Keeler said the team has to take the rest of the series one game at a time.
“We know we’re not done yet. We’ve just got to keep pushing,” said Keeler.
“We have tomorrow to kind of regroup and figure out what we can do better. … We’ve just got to keep going.”
The Rebels will host the Oil Kings for Game 4 this Wednesday at the Peavey Mart Centrium. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.