The Red Deer Rebels playoff magic number is down to just one point.
They need one point in their remaining two games to clinch a playoff spot after the Brandon Wheat Kings lost 6-2 to the Moose Jaw Warriors. Brandon sits four points back of the Rebels for the final wildcard spot with two games left on the WHL schedule.
Red Deer didn’t do themselves any favours Wednesday, losing their sixth straight meeting of the season with the Medicine Hat Tigers at the Canalta Centre.
The Tigers’ power play, operating at more than 60 per cent against Red Deer this year, bit them again, scoring on two of three chances in the 7-4 victory. Brett Kemp had a hat trick and an assist for the home side as Medicine Hat clinched a playoff spot.
“It was more bad than good. At times we did things okay, we created a little bit more and got pucks to the net a little more. We a had a lot of break downs defensively,” said Rebels assistant coach Ryan Colville.
A poor three minutes and 29 seconds in the second period was ultimately the backbreaker for the visitors. Red Deer led 2-1 early in the second after goals from Jeff de Wit to open the scoring and Zak Smith 57 seconds into the middle frame. Ryan Chyzowski started the Tigers’ goal barrage, before Brett Kemp buried twice in just over two minutes to open up a 4-2 Medicine Hat advantage.
Just past the midway point of the second, Josh Tarzwell snipped his 11th goal of the year with a wrist shot past Tigers goalie Mads Sogaard. Alternate captain Brandon Hagel added his second assist of the game on the goal and was the first Rebel to eclipse the 100-point plateau since Ryan Nugent Hopkins in the 2010-2011 season.
Chyzowski added his second of the night with 6:01 left in the second, the Tigers second power play tally of the night.
“That stretch in the second– I think they scored three goals in the first eight minutes. Every time we scored, they scored right away. We couldn’t build any momentum. We’re constantly chasing the game,” Colville said.
Kemp clinched the hat trick early in the third with his 31st goal of the year and chased Rebels netminder Ethan Anders in the process. Anders stopped 21 shots on the night and was replaced by Byron Fancy who allowed a goal on three shots.
Hagel buried his 41st of the season to get the Rebels back within a pair midway through the third. The 21-year-old had three points in the loss and is now alone in second on the Rebels franchise points list with 278 points.
Rebels defenceman Alex Alexyev missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury and is listed as week-to-week on the WHL Injury Report. Forward Alex Morozoff also served his second of a two-game suspension for a boarding penalty against the Kootenay Ice last Saturday.
Red Deer will play their final regular season home game Friday night against the Lethbridge Hurricanes. They’ll finish the season in Cranbrook against the Kootenay Ice.