Red Deer Rebels end B.C. road trip with win over Prince George

Red Deer Rebels end B.C. road trip with win over Prince George

Rebels 4 Cougars 2

The Red Deer Rebels finished the B.C. road trip on a high note.

Playing their fifth game in seven days, Red Deer still had enough gas left in the tank to pick up a 4-2 victory over the Prince George Cougars Monday afternoon.

Rookie forward Jayden Grubbe notched a goal and an assist and Byron Fancy was solid in net, stopping 32 shots in the win.

“We got it going, especially in the second and the third. We were right in the fight. Battled hard, especially in the last game of a long road swing. Happy with our compete and leaving with two points,” said Rebels assistant coach Brad Flynn.

Red Deer finished the daunting B.C. road swing, which saw them travel almost 2,500 km over seven days, with a 2-3 record, picking up wins in the final two contests.

In Monday’s win, Josh Tarzwell opened the scoring with his team-leading 27th goal of the year, midway through the first period. Grubbe dug the puck out of a scramble and slipped a pass to the Red Deer product who beat Taylor Gauthier for the tally.

Only 1:17 later, the Cougars struck back to tie the game. Johnny Hooker wired a shot past Fancy from a bad angle, just below the faceoff circle.

Ethan Browne then gave the home side a 2-1 advantage at 7:37 of the second, crashing the net and burying a rebound after a Vladislav Mikhalchuk shot off the rush.

Shortly after the Browne tally, Red Deer started to assert their will on the lowly Cougars, who are 19th in the WHL and on a four-game losing streak.

Ethan Rowland broke through first for the Rebels, converting a rebound after a breakaway chance from Dallon Melin. The goal was Rowland’s third of the year and first since Nov. 16.

“He’s a hard worker. Lots of energy and stirs the pot when he’s out there. Fighting a bad cold, he stayed in the lineup and made the most of his opportunity. Went hard to the net and cashed in on a rebound,” Flynn said.

“Those guys chip in with energy and when they can chip in offensively, it’s a big bonus. Those guys competed and worked hard and were rewarded for it.”

Just under three minutes later, Chris Douglas was johnny on the spot to bury his 11th goal of the campaign. Ethan Sakowich, who was first star on the night, made a nice play and got the shot on net before Douglas scooped up the rebound.

“Sak has been strong for us, especially logging more minutes. He does a lot of little things well that go unnoticed and when he’s able to contribute, he contributes,” Flynn said.

“He’s been really strong on both sides of the puck and obviously he’s known more for his defensive side and the way he sacrifices for teammates– blocks shots and plays physical. He’s made some plays and stepped up on offensive side.”

In the third, Fancy stood tall with nine saves and Grubbe closed out the scoring with an empty-net goal after Jaxsen Wiebe forced a turnover in the neutral zone.

Red Deer’s penalty kill was also strong on the night, killing off both Prince George man-advantage opportunities.

The Rebels will be back on the ice Saturday, for their first home game in two weeks against the Tri-City Americans. Puck drop is 7 p.m.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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