Pats 6 Rebels 5 (OT)
It was 4-1.
The Red Deer Rebels looked to be in the driver’s seat against the Regina Pats Saturday, until they weren’t.
The Pats scored three times from the midway point in the second to the 1:16 mark of the third to tie the game at four. Cam Hausinger gave the home side a brief dash of hope with 2:47 to play on his second goal of the night before a former Rebel came back to haunt his old club.
Veteran Austin Pratt, who played two and a half seasons in Red Deer banked a shot in off a skate from behind the net with 15 seconds left in the game for his second of the night to tie it at five. After overtime didn’t solve anything, Pratt was one of three Regina shooters to score in the shootout.
Hausinger and Brett Davis scored in the skills competition for Red Deer, but Arshdeep Bains couldn’t convert and Zach Wytinick beat Byron Fancy to secure the 6-5 victory in front of 3,638 fans at the Centrium.
The win snapped a 10-game losing streak for the Pats and was the first career WHL win for netminder Danton Belluk.
“You’re up 4-1 in the hockey game. We just gotta stay with our game,” said Red Deer Rebels head coach Brent Sutter.
“It had nothing to do with the first period, the third period or overtime and nothing to do with the shootout. It had everything to do with our second period. You’re up 4-1, just stay with your game and just keep doing the things we were doing. We’re playing well.”
Pratt started the rally for the Pats at the midway point of the second with his side down 4-1, tipping a point shot past Fancy.
Then, Robbie Holmes notched a tally with 1:18 to go in the frame to get his side within a goal.
Some sloppy defensive play by the Rebels allowed Regina to tie the game just 76 seconds into the third.
Three turnovers in their own zone led to a 2-on-1 that Ryker Evans converted to knot the game at four.
“You have to have controlled emotions. You gotta be disciplined, you have to play hard and finish checks, but you have to do it intelligently,” Sutter said.
“We had a power play in the second, we take a minor penalty right off the faceoff. It kills you there. We let momentum get away from us and it gave them life. Then you’re in a tight game going into the third.”
Still, Hausinger rose to the occasion late in the contest, pouncing on a rebound and putting it top shelf on Belluk.
But Pratt haunted his old team again in the dying minutes, bouncing a backhand from below the goal line off a Rebels’ skate and over Fancy’s shoulder.
“You don’t have to score pretty goals in this league. What do they do on their tying goal, just threw it on net and it went off a skate and in. We want to be a team that feathers’ passes and everything has to be a pretty play to get shots on net,” added Sutter.
The opening period of the game was perhaps one of the Rebels’ best this season.
From the hop, it was a feisty affair between two of the most penalized teams in the WHL.
Two fights in the first 10 minutes set the tone and from there, the Rebels and Pats combined for 48 penalty minutes.
Forward Zak Smith got the home side on the board just 36 seconds into the game on their second shot. He picked up a loose puck and ripped it past Belluk.
With 7:28 left in the period, Ethan Rowland had a moment he’ll likely remember for a long time. In his 14th WHL game, the right winger forced a turnover and slid a backhand in for his first career WHL goal.
After Ty Kolle cut the deficit, Red Deer rallied and buried twice to open up the 4-1 lead.
First, Dawson Barteaux notched his third of the year and just 2:24 later, Cam Hausinger tipped in his second of the campaign.
After that, it snowballed for the young Rebels squad.
“We started doing things that hurt us in the past. Putting pucks in the middle of the ice, pucks on our backhands. Too many turnovers in the neutral zone, not gettting pucks behind the defence. Then what happens– we start taking too many penalties,” Sutter said, commenting on three straight minors in the second.
“They got some momentum from that and it took momentum away from us. They got life. It doesn’t matter if you play Regina or whoever you’re playing if you do those things you’re eventually going to get burned by it. We got off our game in the second and it hurt us.”
Fancy made 32 saves in the loss.
While the Rebels salvaged a point, it was their fourth straight defeat. Red Deer was also outshot in the game 37-29, it was the 11th straight game they have been outshot to start the year and it’s becoming an alarming trend.
“That’s why we get outshot so many nights because we don’t put enough pucks on net– direct enough pucks there,” Sutter said.
“We want to make the perfect play. It hurts us offensively. You score five goals in a game, you should win. It tells you where you need to be better.”
The Rebels will host the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Tuesday night at the Centrium, with puck drop set for 7 p.m.