Red Deer Rebels netminder Rylan Toth is nothing if not resilient.
Toth, who was replaced by Trevor Martin after allowing a game-opening goal in the Rebels’ 7-1 WHL win over the Saskatoon Blades Wednesday, turned in a solid performance Friday in a 3-1 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers before a recorded crowd of 5,209 at the Centrium.
The 19-year-old stopper turned aside 40 shots, including 19 in the third period as the Tigers displayed a sense of desperation while trailing 3-0.
“It was a good game. Obviously it was a tough one the other night but I wanted to make sure I had a good bounce-back game tonight,” said Toth, whose shutout bid was ruined when Tigers defenceman Ty Stanton scored with just over three minutes remaining.
“It’s always a fun game when you face 40 shots, Maybe the coach isn’t the happiest with how we played in the third, but those are the fun ones to play when you’re a goalie.”
The Rebels were seemingly in complete control of the game when Adam Musil potted a short-handed goal at 5:36 of the second period, stealing the puck from Stanton behind the Tigers net, backing out in front and ripping a wrist shot past goaltender Austin Lotz.
The Tigers, however, never quit and dominated most of the final frame while outshooting their hosts 20-9. But Toth came up big at the most opportune times and kept the visitors from making it a nail-biter in the final few minutes.
“They had quite a few shots but we also blocked quite a few,” said Toth. “(Kayle) Doetzel had a lot of great blocks. We also kept a lot of shots to the outside so my teammates made it pretty easy for me.”
The Rebels were up 1-0 after the first period on a power-play goal by Grayson Pawlenchuk, who buried a rebound in the top of the net from along the goal line.
Presten Kopeck notched the eventual winner early in the second frame, tipping a Colton Bobyk point shot past Lotz, and Musil rounded out the Rebels scoring three minutes later.
Lotz, who was also solid, blocked 31 shots overall.
“We played a lot in our own end in the third period and he played well, ” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, in reference to Toth. “He and I had a little talk before the game. I reminded him that to be the No. 1 guy you have to play solid and give us quality minutes without (giving up) any easy goals.
“We weren’t anything special here tonight, but we found a way to win and I guess you can say good teams do that.”
Toth and Sutter were both impressed with the Tigers, who mounted an impressive third-period attack despite being without their top two forwards — Cole Sanford and Trevor Cox, both injured.
“They’re a similar team to last year,” said the Rebels netminder. “Obviously they were missing Sanford and Cox tonight but they definitely work hard and they’re fast. Their transition game is crazy, we have to be ready at all times or they’re going to beat us that way.”
Added Sutter: “Medicine Hat was without some of their top players tonight but they played hard. They played well defensively and blocked a lot of shots. We had some quality scoring chances we didn’t capitalize on, but we’ll take the two points and reload for tomorrow night.”
The Kootenay Ice, who lost 4-3 in overtime to the visiting Saskatoon Blades Friday, visit the Centrium tonight.
l With Haydn Fleury serving the first of a two-game suspension, newcomer Braden Purtill made his debut on the Red Deer blueline and got a positive review from Sutter.