Extra time has been a fickle mistress for the Red Deer Rebels this season.
After winning their first three games of the year that went beyond regulation, the Rebels had lost the last 11 in a row before Saturday.
While the Rebels were just 3-11 in extra time this season, Kelowna was the best team in the WHL beyond 60 minutes with a 7-2-2-1 record.
Red Deer broke out of that skid in a big way against the west division leading Kelowna Rockets, with a 3-2 overtime victory at the Centrium.
Dawson Barteaux hit Brandon Hagel with a beautiful stretch pass late in the overtime, before Hagel burst down the wing and found Kristian Reichel who buried the game-winner past Cole Tisdale.
“We capitalized on some opportunities and we got something to go our way in overtime,” Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said.
“We got one chance in overtime and we scored on it. In the past, we got that one chance, we’d miss it and it would go down and end up in our net. We capitalized on it. We played hard and competed hard. Obviously a good team we played here tonight.”
The goal was Reichel’s WHL rookie leading 17th of the year.
Ethan Anders was first star and had a stellar night for the Rebels, finishing with 41 saves, three off his career high of 44.
“It was nice to come out with that many saves, got out there and was moving (well). Good to get that many shots,” Anders said.
“When I first got out there, I had a good feel for things then halfway through the first got really into it. Found my way through traffic and our defence was blocking shots when I couldn’t see it.”
The Rebels lead 2-1 late in the game before the Rockets found the tying goal after an unfortunate bounce in the Rebels end. Josh Tarzwell made a great shot block with the Rockets buzzing, but the puck deflected to Kole Lind and he batted it out of the air and in past Anders with just 33 seconds left in the contest.
Tarzwell was the man who put the Rebels ahead in the first place, with a key block on the penalty kill late in the game as well as a clutch shorthanded goal.
The Red Deer product pulled the Rebels ahead 2-1 with a fantastic shorthanded effort 85 seconds in the third. The winger chased down a loose puck with Red Deer a man short and fired a spin-o-rama wrist shot from just inside the blueline that beat Tisdale blocker side. It was his second goal since joining the Rebels.
“As the game went on he got better and better. The second and third periods were his best periods. The second wasn’t as good but I thought Tarz was one of our better forwards in the second,” Sutter said.
“He’s getting rewarded for playing the game the right way– more the way I like to see him play. He’s capitalizing on some chances, which is huge. He was getting them before but pucks weren’t going in the net.
A tired Rebels group was stuck on the ice after an icing call early in the second and Rockets forward Leif Mattson notched his 17th goal of the year. Off a faceoff, a rebound deflected into the slot on Mattson’s stick and he buried it blocker side on Anders.
On just their third shot of the period, Mason McCarty tied the game at one for Red Deer. The 21-year-old forward from Blackie, Alta., potted his team-leading 25th goal of the year after he blocked a shot and raced down the ice before firing a wrist shot high past Cole Tisdale.
The Rebels shut down rockets on all four power-play opportunities, and Kelowna has the third ranked power play in the league.
“Our penalty killing has been good the last three games,” Sutter said. “We changed some things up on it, some things really needed to be done differently. We addressed them and it seems to be working.”
The Rebels are back on the ice Sunday when they host the Lethbridge Hurricanes.