Tigers 5 Rebels 2 (Saturday)
Tigers 3 Rebels 2 (Monday)
The Red Deer Rebels finally found the complete effort they’d been longing for Monday night in Medicine Hat.
Although it didn’t result in a win during the final contest of a three-game WHL Central Division mini-series, it was a better showing than Red Deer had produced in the last half dozen games.
The Tigers squeaked out a 3-2 win, handing the Rebels their 12th straight loss.
Even still, the Rebels went down fighting.
Chase Coward was brilliant in just his third WHL appearance, turning aside 32 shots in the loss. Down 3-1 heading into the final minute with a six-on-four advantage, a Chris Douglas tip-in got the Rebels within a goal with only 24 seconds left.
The game never gets to that point without Coward’s 16 saves in the second period, the only blemish coming on a Rhett Parsons tip at 12:36 of the frame to open up a 2-1 lead.
Red Deer pushed back after that tally and Ethan Rowland had a glorious chance to tie the game on a two-on-one early in the third.
That missed opportunity was costly, Oren Shtrom tapped in a wonderful feed from Brett Kemp just past the halfway point of the final frame to make it 3-1.
Red Deer had pressure after that as well, but Tigers rookie goalie Beckett Langkow was equal to the task and finished with 27 saves to earn the victory.
Ryan Chyzowski opened the scoring for the Tigers at 12:58 of the first and Dallon Melin tied it at one for Red Deer with 4:58 left in the frame.
Ben King added an assist on the Douglas goal and extended his point streak to seven games.
Saturday, in the second game of the series, the same old issues plagued the Rebels.
Red Deer jumped out to a 2-0 lead Saturday at the Centrium against the Tigers– only to allow five straight goals, including two power-play tallies in the third period in a 5-2 loss.
It was the Rebels 11th straight defeat.
“I thought we didn’t have all our guys playing. I thought we had a B-effort from a lot of guys. For us, we gotta have everyone going. I thought we looked tired,” said Rebels assistant coach Ryan Colville.
“We’re putting ourselves in a position to win. The last three games we’ve been tied or winning going into the third period. We just gotta figure out ways to finish off those games.”
Arshdeep Bains opened the scoring for the Rebels with a nice backhand off the rush and Ben King made it 2-o late in the first on the power play.
That’s where the game started to get away from the home side.
Chyzowski cut the deficit with a goal off the rush early in the second and Reid Andresen scored his first career WHL goal on a rebound late in the period to tie the game at two.
While Red Deer had chances in the second, Medicine Hat outshot Rebels 14-5 in the frame.
Tigers forward Carson Hopwo buried on what proved to be the game-winner with 4:28 left in third.
Cole Clayton added to the advantage, burying a rebound early into a Chris Douglas minor and Brett Kemp rounded out the scoring after a Jaxsen Weibe unsportsmanlike minor with 2:56 left in the game.
“I didn’t think our effort was there all the way through. I didn’t like our first and second period. I thought we were slow and we looked tired and not everybody was going. But again, we had a chance, we were right there,” Colville said.
Medicine Hat scored twice on the man-advantage in the win, while the Rebels scored just once on the power play in the loss.
Colville said he felt the penalty kill was better Saturday but it still wasn’t good enough.
“I thought our PK looked the best, we just made three mistakes and it’s in the back of our net. We had a mini-rush, we turn the puck over and they come at us four-on-two. A couple of bounces and they’re in the back of our net,” Colville said.
Byron Fancy finished with 29 saves in the loss and Garin Bjorklund stopped 15 shots in the win.
Red Deer is 2-15-2 on the season and will have their bye next weekend, before rounding out the season in the first week of May.