Calgary Hitmen forward Riley Stotts puts a backhand on Red Deer Rebels netminder Byron Fancy during a Rebels 3-2 overtime win Sunday at the Saddledome in Calgary. Photo courtesy of Candice Ward/Calgary Hitmen)

Red Deer Rebels spoil Hitmen Teddy Bear Toss night with OT win

Snap four-game losing streak

Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT)

Josh Tarzwell scored on a play that seemed like an eternity away from puck drop.

Tarzwell buried off the rush 2:13 into overtime, more than three hours after the 4 p.m. start Sunday, to give the Rebels a 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Calgary Hitmen.

It was the first time this season that the Rebels had won when trailing after 40 minutes, as they lost the previous 15 games when behind going into the third period. They also snapped a four-game losing streak in the process.

“Real solid game. Just a carryover from (Saturday) and we got rewarded for it. We got down but we just kept playing and staying with our game. The kids just battling and at the end of the day, they stayed in the fight,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter.

The marathon game was for a most worthy cause and one of the most thrilling nights on the WHL calendar, the annual Hitmen Teddy Bear Toss.

More than 17,000 fans at the Saddledome rained down stuffed bears onto the ice just 94 seconds into the contest when Carson Focht opened the scoring for the home side.

From there, it took nearly 45 minutes to clean up the bears from the ice and continue play in the period.

When play did roll on, the Rebels came out with a renewed spirit and push the pace for the rest of the period. That effort didn’t pay dividends until later in the game.

It was almost two hours before the second goal, as Riley Stotts broke in alone and scored 46 seconds into the third period.

That could have easily taken the air out of the Rebels’ sails, but Joel Sexsmith was having none of it. The 17-year-old sniped on Hitmen goalie Jack McNaughton for his first career WHL goal, one he won’t soon forget to cut the deficit in half.

“They stayed in the fight, we just stayed with our game and you get a big goal and get some momentum and things start happening. We had scoring chances, but their goalie played well,” Sutter said.

Five minutes later, Cam Hausinger went to work and tied the game at two. The 20-year-old forward has points in his last four games and his line along with Tarzwell and Arshdeep Bains has made a real difference in the last handful of games.

“They play a heavy game. They’re hard on pucks and they’ve been working extremely hard,” Sutter said.

“We need that from that line, that’s part of the reason why we put them together is to have a line like that. They seem to be gelling right now.”

Fancy was stellar in the third and on the night overall. He turned aside 29 shots in 62:13 of action, including 10 saves in he third to give Red Deer a chance to earn two points.

“Byron kept us right there in the fight, too. It was a good effort by everybody,” Sutter said.

The Rebels will host the Moose Jaw Warriors Wednesday, before traveling to Moose Jaw Friday to finish off the home-and-home.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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Carson Focht scored the Calgary Hitmen Teddy Bear toss goal just 94 seconds into the game Sunday, but the Red Deer Rebels got the last laugh with a 3-2 overtime victory. (Photo courtesy of Candice Ward/Calgary Hitmen)

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