Unfortunately for Red Deer, two dominant periods were not enough as Medicine Hat scored in the third period to send the teams to overtime.
“For 39 and a half minutes we were a good team,” said Rebels general manager and head coach Brent Sutter.
“Our first two periods weren’t great, but you gotta give Red Deer a lot of credit,” said Tigers assistant coach Joe Frazer
Last night’s game required overtime and neither team was able to bury a shot, so the teams headed to the skills portion of the hockey dance.
Looking to avenge a 9-1 defeat in Medicine Hat on October 12th, Red Deer came out of the gates swinging.
Neither team was able to score a goal in the first period and both Ethan Anders and Garin Bjorklund had to be sharp.
Anders had the save of the night when a defender blew a tire leaving the zone. This gave the Tigers a 2-on-0 and Anders stretched out the left pad to make a remarkable stop.
The Red Deer forecheck and checking was relentless. It resulted in the teams heading down the tunnels tied at one and the Rebels holding a 14-7 edge in shots.
Medicine Hat looked road-weary throughout the period, having played their previous eight games away from home due to the U-17 World Challenge being held at Canalta Centre in Medicine Hat.
Red Deer was also away from home for a lengthy stretch — the game at the Westerner Park Centrium being their first in three weeks.
The visitors scored themselves the lead early in the second period. The WHL’s leading power play converted on a tic-tac-toe play just 45 seconds into the man advantage. Brett Kemp was the recipient of a Cole Sillinger pass at the side of the net. He only needed to tap it past Anders for his sixth goal of the season.
Red Deer needed a response and they got one quickly.
Forward Ben King scored his first goal as a Rebel just 1:31 later.
King tipped a point shot from Dawson Barteaux that got behind Bjorklund to tie the game at one. The goal was King’s fifth of the season.
Red Deer continued to thrive with the shift in momentum as they pinned Medicine Hat in their own end for extended periods of play. Their continued forecheck resulted in another opportunity to score.
Jaxsen Wiebe scored his fourth goal of the season when he picked up a pass from Dallon Melin and scored with a quick wrist shot. With just under 11 minutes to play, the Rebels had their first lead of the night.
With another Rebel in the box, the Tigers tried to get some momentum back in their corner. It was Red Deer, though, who turned the tables when Josh Tarzwell picked up a lead feed from Chris Douglas. Tarzwell was off to the races, facing only Bjorklund. A quick head fake later and the puck was gliding through Bjorklund’s five-hole.
The goal was Tarzwell’s team-leading seventh.
Then, something turned in the Rebels game. Suddenly, the team was protecting the lead and seemed less interested in trying to score. This shift in gameplay was costly.
With 31 seconds to play in the period, a point shot from Eric Van Impe was deflected in front of Anders by Corson Hopwo. His third goal of the season cut the Rebels lead to one.
The play that led up to the goal was described by Brent Sutter, “That goal at the end of the second, the puck should have never been in our end. We picked up the puck 10 feet inside our blue line. We skated back behind our net and turned the puck over. They get a shot on net and then we lose a faceoff and it’s in our net.”
The third period was all Medicine Hat as they outplayed Red Deer. The final shots were indicative of the play staying mainly in Red Deer’s end, finishing the period 12-4 in favour of the visitors.
With continued pressure through the middle stages of the third period, the Tigers found the tying goal. Six and a half minutes remained and Nick McCarry collected a loose puck in front of Anders and his shot was screened enough by the players in front. McCarry collected his fourth goal of the season.
“Took us two periods to get going. Fortunately, the third period was our best,” said Frazer.
“Garin (Bjorklund) was outstanding for us. It could have easily been four or five to two going into the third. I think that second goal for us and the end of the second was huge to get us some momentum going into the third and kind of give us some life,” added Frazer
Medicine Hat mostly controlled the play in the five minutes of extra time, not allowing a single Red Deer shot. They had 5 shots in the overtime period.
The skills competition saw Ben King score for the Rebels, but the Tigers scored twice (Sillinger, Brinkman) and took home the extra point.
“We played the third on our heels. That’s something we have to work on,” Rebels captain Dawson Barteaux said. “We’ve given up too many games like that this year.
“If we keep on our toes and keep after it, things will work out for us.”
The three stars in the building 1) Christoffer Sedoff 2) Eric Van Impe 3) Jonathan Brinkman. Brett Kemp and Arshdeep Bains tied with 5 shots apiece. Jayden Grubbe was excellent in the faceoff dot, winning 10 of 12 attempts. The potent Medicine Hat power play was 1-for-4 while allowing a short-handed goal against. Red Deer was 0-for-2. Medicine Hat continues to lead the league in power-play efficiency at 26.5%. Red Deer will face the Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday in Red Deer. Medicine Hat heads home for their first home game since October 15th. They will face the Edmonton Oil Kings.