Red Deer Rebels forward Frantisek Formanek and Brandon Wheat Kings forward Tyson Zimmer battle for the puck during Game 6 of the teams’ Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. (Photo by Thomas Friesen/The Brandon Sun)

Red Deer Rebels forward Frantisek Formanek and Brandon Wheat Kings forward Tyson Zimmer battle for the puck during Game 6 of the teams’ Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. (Photo by Thomas Friesen/The Brandon Sun)

Red Deer Rebels win in triple-overtime, advance to second round

Rebels 5 Wheat Kings 4 (3OT)

(Red Deer wins series 4-2)

Red Deer Rebels captain Jayden Grubbe’s triple-overtime goal has sent his team to the second round of the Western Hockey League playoffs.

The Rebels eliminated the Brandon Wheat Kings with a 5-4 triple-overtime victory in Game 6 of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal series Sunday evening.

After 107:41 of action – the longest game in Rebels’ franchise history, Jace Isley collected the puck behind the net and centred it to Grubbe, who hammered a shot to the back of the net.

“It probably took a second for (the players) to realize we won the game because it had been going on so long, but the guys are ecstatic. They weren’t on the bench long so they go could celebrate,” said Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk.

The Rebels will play the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference semi-final. Konowalchuk said he wants the players to just enjoy Sunday’s victory for the time being.

“We have to celebrate this series win,” he said.

“Right now, let’s just enjoy the moment. The guys shouldn’t even be thinking about the next round for at least 24 hours here. They deserve to enjoy this one for a bit.”

Red Deer’s top line delivered a dominant performance offensively in Game 6, combining for 10 points. Ben King scored a hat trick and added an assist, Arshdeep Bains had a goal and three assists, and Jhett Larson recorded two assists.

“When you need your big guys to step up, they did. Your best guys have to be your best players and they certainly were,” he said.

Just like in Game 5, it took the Rebels less than a minute to get on the scoreboard in Game 6.

From behind the net, Bains slipped a pass into the slot. King collected the puck and wired it past the blocker hand of Wheat Kings goaltender Ethan Kruger just 57 seconds into the game.

It didn’t take King long to strike again. In a play that was similar to the first goal, Bains got the puck to King in the slot and he scored his second of the game at 2:52 of the first.

Wheat Kings defender Chad Nychuk made a nifty move around Rebels defenceman Jace Weir to go in all alone against Rebels goaltender Chase Coward. Nychuk tried to slide a shot five-hole, but Coward stuffed the attempt and deflected the puck out of play.

On the next faceoff, Wheat Kings captain Ridly Greig won the draw over to teammate Marcus Kallionkieli, who immediately got the puck back to Greig. The six-foot, 172-pound centre then whistled a wrist shot over Coward’s glove hand at 8:41 of the first.

This was the first goal and point of the series for Greig, who had 26 goals and 63 points in 39 games this season.

The Wheat Kings evened things up early in the second when Jake Chiasson snapped a pass to a cutting Rylen Roersma, who chipped the puck past Coward at 2:16 of the middle frame. Red Deer native Nate Danielson picked up the first of his two assists on the night on the tally.

King completed his hat trick by one-timing a perfect pass from Jhett Larson while on a two-on-one rush 10:07 into the second. But Greig scored his second of the game about five minutes later to tie things up again.

Less than a minute later, the Rebels’ top line put the team back on top. King made a pass towards the crease – the puck deflected off of Bains’ skate and into the net.

Kallionkieli potted a centring pass from Nychuk to even the score for the third time in the game 2:38 into the third period.

Coward and Kruger continued to trade saves as both squads looked to break the tie. Brandon was putting on plenty of pressure with a couple of minutes left in regulation, but Greig took a tripping penalty in the offensive zone to put Red Deer on the power play. The Wheat Kings were able to kill the penalty and push the game into overtime.

Despite a number of scoring chances on both sides of the ice, the Rebels and Wheat Kings weren’t able to put the puck into the net during the first or second overtime. The Rebels killed two penalties in extra time: one at the end of double-overtime and another at the beginning of triple-overtime.

Grubbe then played hero, scoring the winner 7:41 into triple-overtime.

Brandon head coach Don MacGillivray said his players battled all series long.

“It was a hard physical series and we gave Red Deer everything they could handle but they, unfortunately, came up on the right side,” MacGillivray said, adding he’s proud of his team.

“They competed hard, they battled, they played like old-time hockey and we gave ourselves a chance to win every game other than the first game when I felt like we played OK but not quite good enough.”

Coward made 46 saves on 50 shots for Red Deer, while Kruger stopped 50 of 55.

Game 1 of round two starts Thursday in Edmonton. Game 2 is Saturday in Edmonton and Game 3 is in Red Deer on Monday, May 9.

—With files from The Brandon Sun

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