Tigers 4 Rebels 3 (Shootout)
Lessons don’t always turn into points in the WHL and the Red Deer Rebels learned that the hard way.
Leading the Medicine Hat Tigers 3-2 heading into the third period on home ice, the Rebels were back on their heels for the majority final frame and were unable to close ou the night with two points.
The Tigers scored with 6:32 left in the third to tie the game in front of 4,010 fans at the Centrium and outshot Red Deer 12-4 in the period.
After a scoreless overtime, Ben King scored on the first shot of the shootout, but all four Rebels that followed missed. Cole Sillinger sent it to extra shooters for the Tigers and Jonathan Brinkman buried to clinch a 4-3 victory for Medicine Hat.
After playing some of their best hockey for nearly 39 minutes, Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said his group simply can’t let a 3-1 lead slip away.
“This lesson comes over and over again. We talked about it after the second, we wanted to stay after it and go after them and for whatever reason, it’s a mindset,” Sutter said.
“We just sit back and you can’t do that. That’s where you need your veteran guys to take charge. Our third period wasn’t good enough.”
Red Deer played a strong first, outshooting the Tigers 14-7 and generating plenty of scoring chances.
After Ethan Sakowich went to the box for a cross-checking minor early in the second, the Tigers top-ranked WHL power play struck. Only 45 second into the advantage, James Hamblin dished down low to Cole Sillinger who whipped a pass across to Brett Kemp before the centre tapped in his sixth tally of the year.
Red Deer had a good response, finding the equalizer just 90 seconds later. King, in his first game at the Centrium after being acquired from the Swift Current Broncos last week, tipped home a Dawson Barteaux point shot for his first goal as a Rebel.
The Rebels kept up the intensity and were rewarded midway through the period. Rookie Jaxsen Wiebe walked out of the corner and sniped on Garin Bjorklund high glove for his fourth goal of the year.
They kept rolling when Chris Douglas forced a turnover shorthanded and sprung Josh Tarzwell on a breakaway. The Red Deer product made no mistake, cashing his seventh goal of the year five-hole on Bjorklund.
With 31 seconds left in the second disaster struck. Eric Van Impe fired a point shot that was tipped by Corson Hopwo past Anders. Before that point, Red Deer had outshot the Tigers 28-13.
“I thought for 39 minutes, we were a good team. We played pretty well. That goal at the end of the second, that puck shouldn’t be in our zone to begin with,” Sutter said.
“We picked up the puck 10 feet from the blue line and skated it back behind our net. Turned the puck over and they got a shot on net. They get a faceoff and it’s in the back of our net. In the third period, I didn’t like our third period.”
That started a momentum swing in the Tigers favour, as the visitors brought some relentless pressure in the third period.
They outshot Red Deer 12-4 in the frame and Nick McCarry notched his fourth of the year with 6:32 left in the third.
In a game where there were plenty of positives, Barteaux said after a win in Prince Albert and hanging with Tigers for 40 minutes, Rebels’ fans can expect a better product for the rest of the season.
“It’s exciting. Obviously we were going through a stint there where we weren’t clicking. We went on the long road trip and we got closer,” he said.
“We got a couple wins, not as many as we wanted to. That last game in PA, it flicked a light on. Those first two periods were some insight for our home fans on what it’s going to be like for the rest of the year.”
Anders finished the night with 27 saves, while Bjorklund picked up the win with 29 stops.
Three stars: Christoffer Sedoff (1), Eric Van Impe (2), Johnathan Brinkman (3).
Red Deer is back on home ice Saturday against the Brandon Wheat Kings with puck drop set for 7 p.m.