After a rough start to the season the Red Deer Rebels have turned things around in a major way over their last ten games. The team has gone 7-1-2-0 in those games and relied on great goaltending from the duo of Riley Lamb and Ethan Anders.
This afternoon in a game played in Prince George, it was again Lamb, stepping up to make 25 saves and allow zero goals. He has won his last four starts after going 1-9-3-2 when he returned from his upper body injury suffered in training camp.
Lamb was tested early including a shot that bounced off the end-boards, came back in front of the net and bounced around in front of the net with three Cougars players in the slot area.
It would be the Rebels taking the lead after an Austin Crossley roughing penalty put the Cougars behind the eight-ball.
Brandon Hagel’s attempt to put the puck on the net took an odd trajectory and went to the point where Dawson Barteaux was wide open with just one player between he and a shot on net. Barteaux made a move around the Cougar penalty killer and fired a shot at the net. It would make it past Taylor Gauthier and give the Rebels a 1-0 lead on the road.
Penalties just 17 seconds apart spelled trouble for Red Deer. Jacob Herauf would be off for kneeing, then was followed to the box by Carson Sass who cleared the puck out of play and got nailed with the dreaded puck over glass delay-of-game penalty.
The Rebels penalty killers were up to the task though as they methodically plugged the zone, dumped the puck and made saves for the entire 1:43 of five on three time.
Ethan Browne would serve up the Cougars best chance, deking past Lamb and tucking the puck into the crease area. The puck was cleared out by the back checking Alex Morozoff and kept the Rebels in front 1-0 at the end of the first period.
The teams would trade chances in the second period and both goalies were up to the task, including a save that went of the mask of Lamb. The teams would only combine for 13 shots in the period, but it would be the Rebels who were able to sneak one in to extend their lead.
In an equal parts awesome and odd play, Alexander Alexeyev would pot his seventh goal of the year after a slick toe-drag past Josh Curtis, and walked right in on the net untouched. He would then wrist a shot past Gauthier. At the same time as Alexeyev was scoring, Brandon Cutler dropped his gloves following a slash-off with Lakusta in the slot area. The goal would come with just 59 seconds left on the second period clock.
A late hooking call to Josh Maser of the Cougars would carry-over to the third period. Red Deer would take advantage with just two seconds left on the power play as Brandon Hagel would chip a puck to Mason McCarty at the offensive blue-line and McCarty would make no mistake in giving his squad a 3-0 lead.
The chances kept coming for the Rebels though Gauthier would have something to say about that. At least two attempts to extend the Rebel lead were foiled with good saves by Gauthier.
A Kristian Reichel-Brandon Hagel give and go just before the eight minute mark would cap off an impressive night for Hagel and the Rebels. Reichel would pass to Hagel, who would then give it back to Reichel. The net would be open enough to score the fourth goal of the night for Red Deer and give Hagel his fourth assist of the night.
That would be all the offense the Rebels would need, they begin their B.C. Division road trip on the right foot.
Rebel Yell… The three stars were as follows 1) Brandon Hagel (4 assists) 2) Riley Lamb (25 save shut-out) 3) Brendan Boyle (3 shots, -1) Mason McCarty and Brandon Hagel had 4 shots each for the Rebels and Max Kryski had 4 for the Cougars. Reese Johnson was 16-of-28 in the faceoff circle while Max Kryski was 10-for-17. Red Deer moves on to their next B.C. Division opponent which is a Valentine’s Day tilt with the Kelowna Rockets. Prince George’s next action is on Saturday in Kamloops to take on the Blazers. With the win and Kootenay’s loss to the Hurricanes today, the Rebels are now just 2 points out of third in the Central Division and a playoff spot.