Special teams key in Optimist Rebels playoff win

Special teams are always a key ingredient for a hockey team, and even more so in the playoffs.

Rebels 4 Raiders 1

ST. ALBERT — Special teams are always a key ingredient for a hockey team, and even more so in the playoffs.

The Red Deer Optimist Rebels turned in another solid special teams performance as they downed the St. Albert Raiders 4-1 to grab a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five Alberta Midget Hockey League final.

The Rebels scored twice on the power play and added a shorthanded marker, which may have been the biggest goal of the game.

Captain Brady Bakke scored while shorthanded late in the opening period to give the Rebels a 1-1 tie heading into the dressing room.

“Again we got off to a slow start and were on our heals for most of the first period,” said Rebels head coach Doug Quinn. “We were outshot 14-7 in the first period and down 1-0 when Brady made it 1-1. That gave us a boost and we got into the first intermission and were able to regroup a bit.”

What bothered Quinn the most was several “undisciplined” penalties in the first period.

“They didn’t allow us to get into a rhythm,” he said.

The middle stanza was all Red Deer as Ty Mappin and Scott Feser scored power play markers around an even strength goal by Tanner Lomness.

Quinn was pleased to see Mappin get untracked.

“Ty’s been struggling a bit of late, but today he really stepped up.”

The Rebels controlled play for most of the third period, before once again running into penalty trouble.

“We killed penalties the last seven minutes, and silly penalties,” said Quinn. “But our penalty kill was outstanding. In fact our special teams were the difference. There’s times when they have to step up.”

Goaltender Dasan Sydora was once again solid in goal, finishing with 29 saves while his mates had 23 on Wyatt Hoflin.

The Rebels have a chance to secure their third straight league title and sixth in the last 10 years when they host the Raiders Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Arena.

The winner will face the Vancouver Giants in the Pacific championship. The Giants, who beat the Rebels in last year’s Pacific playoff, beat the Prince George Cariboo Cougars 4-1 and 2-1 to win their best-of-three league final.

The Pacific champion advances to the Telus Cup in Leduc.

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