Rebels 6 Phenix 5 (2OT)
LEDUC — The Red Deer Optimist Rebels, said head coach Doug Quinn, were playing not to lose through the first two periods of Sunday’s Telus Cup final versus the Phénix du College du Esther-Blondin of Quebec.
“We were really uptight, we were playing with a fear of failure,” said Quinn. “A few of the guys were feeling sorry for themselves and it didn’t look good after the second intermission. But we talked and regrouped.”
And they stormed back with four unanswered third-period power-play goals and then stole victory from the gaping jaws of defeat on a goal by Nick Glackin at 8:45 of the second overtime period.
Trailing 5-1 after 40 minutes, the Optimist Rebels completed one of the more unlikely comebacks in Telus Cup history. The vast majority of both the live audience and the TSN spectators were convinced that the Phénix would be crowned as the 2012 Canadian midget AAA hockey champions, but the Rebels were not.
“We came in after the second period and knew we had the team to do this,” said Red Deer captain Brady Bakke.
Scott Feser scored a man-advantage goal for Red Deer in the first minute of the third period and a five-minute major to Phénix forward Alexandre Caron-Roy 10 minutes later led to three more Rebels power-play tallies.
“Doug calmed us down after the second period and the five-minute power play gave us a chance,” said Bakke. “We’re a bunch of young men, not NHL professionals, so ups and downs will happen. We felt that if we got a few (goals) we would get many.”
Bakke scored a short-handed goal in the second period and Feser and Glackin each tallied twice in the third. Glackin completed a natural hat trick with the goal that clinched the first-ever national midget AAA crown for a Red Deer team.
“We were getting frustrated as the D (defencemen) were mad at the forwards and the forwards were mad at the D,” said Glackin. “But the coaches came in (during the second intermission) and calmed us down.
“We have a great group of guys. You couldn’t ask for a better team. I know we’re going to have fun tonight. Probably no sleep.”
The Optimist Rebels won silver in the 2007 Telus Cup and were fifth two years ago. The Red Deer Chiefs won two silver and a bronze and finished fourth twice and 10th once in previous appearances in the Canadian championship.
And now, finally, Red Deer’s midget AAA team is a national champion.