Oil Kings force split in Edmonton

If the Red Deer Optimist Rebels thought the Leduc Oil Kings would go down easy after grabbing a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five Alberta Midget Hockey League final they know better now.

Oil Kings 3 Optimist Rebels 1

LEDUC — If the Red Deer Optimist Rebels thought the Leduc Oil Kings would go down easy after grabbing a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five Alberta Midget Hockey League final they know better now.

The Oil Kings stormed back, after losing 3-2 to the Rebels Friday at the Arena, to even the series with a 3-1 victory Sunday.

“We got off to a bad start, the guys weren’t ready for their intensity,” said Rebels head coach Doug Quinn.

The Oil Kings took the lead for good three minutes into the first period, but the turning point came early in the second period with Red Deer enjoying a two-man advantage.

The Rebels defence coughed the puck up at the Leduc blueline and followed that up by hauling the Oil King player down who was awarded a penalty shot. Rebels netminder Tanner Jaillet made the save, but just 15 seconds later the Oil Kings took advantage of another Red Deer miscue and scored on a breakaway.

“No doubt that was the tuning point,” said Quinn. “We did come back and get a goal from Connor Hartley and kept the pressure on them, but another mistake allowed them to break out on a two-on-one and they made it 3-1.

“We simply had too many mental breakdowns, plus our power play is struggling.”

The Rebels finished with 48 shots on goal while Jaillet faced 29.

“Our scoring has dried up,” said Quinn. “We’ve had close to 100 shots (99) in the two games and have just four goals. But give them credit as well. Their goaltender has played well and they’ve also blocked 20 to 25 shots. They work hard and one of the messages we had for the kids was they’re here for a reason and we need to pick it up.”

The third game of the series goes Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Arena with the fourth Friday in Leduc. If a fifth is necessary it’s Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Arena.

“We still have home ice advantage, that’s what we worked for all season,” added Quinn. “We just need to refocus.”

l Hartley has been named the South Division’s player of the month for February.