Rebels 3 Wheat Kings 1
(Rebels lead best-of-seven series 2-1)
The Red Deer Rebels special teams came up big and goalie Chase Coward made some clutch saves as the Rebels took a 2-1 series lead against the Brandon Wheat Kings on Tuesday night.
”I think our guys worked really hard and they competed and they stuck with it,” said Rebels coach Steve Konowalchuk.
“They got the first goal but we persevered and found a way.”
Konowalchuk said it was nice to see the powerplay find the net.
“The other team does a good job of blocking shots. It’s good to see us get a couple.
“It’s playoff time. You’re not going to get too many pretty goals.”
The Wheat Kings opened the scoring at 16:01 in the first period at Brandon’s Westoba Place with a goal from defenceman Logen Hammett, who matched his season output with the marker.
The Rebels took a pair of untimely penalties in the first period. The Rebels twice cut their powerplay short by getting sent to the box. They would go 0-3 on the powerplay in the period. The Wheat Kings were 0-2.
The Rebels got their fourth powerplay early in the second. They managed two shots but could not get one past Ethan Kruger.
The tight-checking continued in the second. The Wheat Kings didn’t get their first shot on goal until halfway through the period, and that was on the powerplay.
Red Deer finally got on the board on the powerplay at 18:43. Ben King threw it on net and Liam Keeler tipped it home. Arshdeep Bains picked up the second assist.
With only 40 seconds left in the period, the Wheat Kings got a chance to go ahead on the powerplay after Jace Isley took a hooking call.
Coward had to come up big a couple of times to preserve the tie going into the third.
It was Kruger’s turn to make the big save early in the third, when Jayden Grubbe was sent in alone short-handed but couldn’t beat Kruger with a forehand deke.
Red Deer had a sixth powerplay chance when Wheat Kings captain Ridly Greig piled into Coward in the goal crease.
League scoring leader Bains took advantage, netting his second goal of the series to put the Rebels ahead for the first time. He tossed a weak shot on net through traffic that found its way in off a Wheat King skate at 6:35. Jace Weir and Kalan Lind assisted.
Ben King sealed the win at 15:26, snapping a shot blocker side past Kruger from the right faceoff circle while the teams were playing 4-on-4. Bains and Jace Weir got the helpers.
The Wheat Kings got an opportunity to close the gap when Bains took a penalty at 17:32. They almost got one 6-on-4 after pulling their goalie but the puck trickled wide.
The Rebels went 2-7 on the powerplay and their penalty killers shut down the Wheat Kings who were 0-6.
Brandon head coach Don MacGillivray said his group simply wasn’t good enough in the third period.
“We had good energy and I thought it was a pretty even game early on,” MacGillivray said. “Obviously we took some penalties in the first period but I thought we did a good job of killing. We just didn’t make enough good plays to get that two-goal lead. I think we missed some opportunities on the power play and then they were a lot hungrier than us in the third.
“I thought they outplayed us in the third period.”
Shots ended up Wheat Kings 33, Rebels 32. The game’s three stars were Bains, Coward and King.
The Wheat Kings host the Rebels in the fourth game of the best-of-seven WHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal series on Wednesday night.