Red Deer Rebel Preston Kopeck and Victoria Royal Ryan Gagnon battle for the puck during first period action at the Centrium Friday.

Royals beat Rebels in shootout

When Colton Bobyk rifled a shot past Victoria Royals netminder Coleman Vollrath at 1:57 of overtime Friday, it certainly appeared that the Red Deer Rebels had rung up their sixth consecutive Western Hockey league win.

Royals 2 Rebels 1 (SO)

When Colton Bobyk rifled a shot past Victoria Royals netminder Coleman Vollrath at 1:57 of overtime Friday, it certainly appeared that the Red Deer Rebels had rung up their sixth consecutive Western Hockey league win.

Appearances, of course, can be deceiving.

The goal was waved off, the ruling being that Rebels forward Grayson Pawlenchuk, parked in the crease, did not allow Vollrath to move forward. The Royals took advantage of the break and emerged with a 2-1 victory in a shootout, as the 14th man up, Austin Carroll, was the lone player to find the back of the net.

“It’s not goalie interference, it’s not allowing the goalie to make the save,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, relaying the message he got from the referee. “They pushed our guy in there and then their guy released and went out and our guy stayed in the crease and didn’t allow the goalie to react to a shot.

“Some games it’s called and tonight they called it.”

The evening didn’t start well for the Rebels, with the visitors notching their lone regulation-time goal just 57 seconds in. Jack Walker was the architect of the tally, directing a pass through the front of the crease to Greg Chase, who promptly fired it by goaltender Rylan Toth.

Brooks Maxwell pulled Red Deer even just under 14 minutes later, pushing a loose puck past Vollrath after Presten Kopeck had moved out of the corner and banked a shot off the far post.

From there, it was all about the goaltenders.

Vollrath, selected as the game’s first star, finished with 34 saves and made a highlight reel stop on Maxwell, sprawling across the net to get his glove on a shot from the edge of the paint. Second star Toth, meanwhile, made an excellent pad save on Alex Forsberg in the second period and then had two prime-time stops in overtime.

The Rebels were outshot 22-17 through 40 minutes, but held a 16-5 advantage in the third period and a 3-2 edge in overtime.

“I thought our start wasn’t very good, we didn’t have a good first period,” said Sutter. “We were soft on pucks and lost a lot of battles. But then we got playing in the second and in the third I thought we were the better team.

“We certainly had some quality scoring chances here tonight. We had opportunities in the shootout to win too, it just wasn’t meant to be. We’ll take the one point from a hard-fought game and we’ll get ready for tomorrow night (tonight versus the visiting Regina Pats).”

Sutter was rightfully impressed with Toth, who made 29 saves over 65 minutes, and Vollrath.

“They both played extremely well, it was tit-for-tat for both of them,” said the Rebels boss. “One would make a save and the other would make a save. It was certainly a goaltending duel here tonight.”

On this night, Vollrath was one save better, a fact that didn’t escape Royals bench boss Dave Lowry.

“We’ll take it. It was obviously a hard-fought game,” said Lowry. “That’s what it’s all about, right, getting that last save, and I thought both goalies played real well tonight.”

The game, intense from start to finish, in many ways resembled a playoff contest.

“It was tight,’ said Lowry. “We knew coming in that Red Deer is playing extremely well and that we’d have to play a good, solid road game, and fortunately we did.”

• Regina, which visits the Centrium tonight, fell 6-2 Friday to the host Edmonton Oil Kings. In the Eastern Conference upset of the evening, the Saskatoon Blades scored two unanswered third-period goals and slipped past the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers 5-4 . . . The Rebels reassigned defenceman Austin Shmoorkoff to the junior B Edmonton Mustangs earlier this week.

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