The Red Deer Rebels celebrate a first-period goal by Kai Uchacz during Game 5 of their first-round WHL playoff matchup against the Brandon Wheat Kings. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

The Red Deer Rebels celebrate a first-period goal by Kai Uchacz during Game 5 of their first-round WHL playoff matchup against the Brandon Wheat Kings. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Red Deer Rebels take 3-2 series lead with Game 5 win

Rebels 3 Wheat Kings 1

(Red Deer leads series 3-2)

The Red Deer Rebels are now one win away from advancing to the second round of the Western Hockey League playoffs.

Red Deer forward Kai Uchacz scored twice to lead the Rebels to a 3-1 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings in Game 5 of their WHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal series Friday night. The Rebels now lead the series three games to two.

It took Uchacz just 47 seconds to get Rebels fans on their feet at the Peavey Mart Centrium.

During an early power play, Rebels forward Kalan Lind powered the puck to the front of the net, where Uchacz shoveled a shot past Wheat Kings goaltender Ethan Kruger.

“It’s important being ready to start. Our guys were ready to start. Our power play got going early. Our guys played hard all night,” said Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk.

Uchacz said he wasn’t sure whether he or Lind would be awarded the goal on the play.

“Doesn’t matter who got it, it’s in the back of the net,” he said.

Red Deer kept pressing and eventually Jhett Larson doubled Red Deer’s lead with a goal 12:32 into the opening period. Larson tipped in a point shot from defenceman Kyle Masters to record his first tally of the playoffs.

Brandon had a couple of scoring chances during a power play about half way through the second period, but Rebels goaltender Chase Coward stood tall and made a few big stops to help his team kill the penalty.

Coward finished the night with 27 saves on 28 shots.

“Cowie was good. When we needed big saves he was there,” said Konowalchuk.

The Wheat Kings had one of their best scoring chances of the game early in the third, but were unable to get on the board. Forward Ridly Greig walked into the slot and fired a shot off of the post.

Brandon finally got one past Coward about six and a half minutes into the final frame. Wheat Kings defenceman Chad Nychuk got the puck to teammate Vincent Iorio as he streaked to the net. Iorio then fired a shot into the top corner.

With Brandon pushing to tie up the game, Uchacz came up big for his club.

Rebels forward Frantisek Formanek outwaited a Wheat Kings defender on a two-on-one rush and slid the puck to an open Uchacz, who buried his second of the night at 13:03 of the third to regain the two-goal lead for Red Deer. The Rebels cruised to the 3-1 win from there.

Brandon head coach Don MacGillivray said a team can’t give an opponent a two-goal lead to start the game and expect to win.

“We just didn’t enough good things early in the game and we took dumb penalties tonight and it cost us the hockey game,” said MacGillivray.

“It took some guys out of the game and then obviously they scored on one of those early ones. That’s tough.

“The reality is we weren’t good enough tonight and that’s the bottom line. They got the win and we have to find a way to win the next game.”

Game 6 will be played in Brandon at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

“It’s going to be a good one. They’re a good team and they’re going to come ready, so we’re excited,” said Uchacz.

If necessary, the Rebels will host the Wheat Kings for a Game 7 at the Peavey Mart Centrium on Tuesday.

 

The Red Deer Rebels search for a rebound after Wheat Kings goaltender Ethan Kruger makes a save during Game 5 of their first-round WHL playoff matchup Friday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

The Red Deer Rebels search for a rebound after Wheat Kings goaltender Ethan Kruger makes a save during Game 5 of their first-round WHL playoff matchup Friday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)