Rebels 2 ICE 1
The puck was on and off Ben King’s stick in the blink of an eye.
At a critical juncture in a 1-1 hockey game, the Red Deer Rebels centre made the most of a soft spot in the Winnipeg ICE defensive zone coverage.
In the rink and on broadcast, all you really heard was a ping– the puck bouncing off the crossbar and in behind ICE netminder Liam Hughes.
“We got a draw back and got it low to (Arshdeep Bains) made a nice bump to (Josh Tarzwell) and he found me in the slot, I just tried to get it on net and it went in, it all worked out,” said the 17-year-old who was third star on the night.
“It was 1-1 for almost two periods play and to score that goal, game-winner by the end of it, it feels good and even the whole team enjoys it, it was awesome.”
King’s tally, his 18th of the year came with just 2:27 left in the game and gave the Rebels a hard-earned 2-1 win over the ICE. It was also Red Deer’s fourth win in a row.
Rebels goalie Ethan Anders was the first star on the night making 37 saves in the win, including 11-third period stops.
Red Deer played like a desperate team against a team that is desperately fighting for playoff position in the East Division and were missing their top two players in captain Peyton Krebs and Connor McClennon. Those players have combined for 100 points this season.
“They’ve had a tough road trip so we expected them to come out hard, we just tried to battle and they battled back, I thought it was a pretty good game from both sides,” added King.
After a bit of a slog to open the game, midway through the first with the Rebels shorthanded, Josh Tarzwell broke loose and was hooked by former teammate Dawson Barteaux. That earned Tarzwell a penalty shot and the Red Deer Minor Hockey product buried his 29th goal of the year which extended his goal-scoring streak to five straight games.
Late in the frame, the ICE tied the game off the rush, as Nino Kinder put a shot off Anders’ pad that bounced right onto the stick of Jakin Smallwood, who tapped in his 14th of the season.
From there, both teams punched and counter-punched before the game-winning goal in the third. Winnipeg called a timeout on the play with the game tied and 2:27 to go, but the faceoff was set on the wrong side of the ice. That allowed Winnipeg to change, then Brent Sutter decided to make a defensive pair change, which led directly to the King game-winner.
“It actually worked out better for us, the personnel we had on the ice, we wanted to make sure we had the right defence pairings out against the right forward line. It worked out good because we were able to win the faceoff and make something happen off it,” said the Rebels GM/head coach.
The Rebels are back on home ice Saturday night when they welcome the Central Division leading Edmonton Oil Kings. Red Deer has lost all six games against the Oil Kings this year. Puck drop is 7 p.m.