It was another one of those games in the schedule where you could miss it. If you weren’t paying attention, you’d look past it and see the three games in three nights coming up. You might think this game isn’t as important as some of the other games remaining down the stretch.
With Calgary’s playoff chances hanging by the smallest of threads, Red Deer would need to battle to get two points out of the contest at hand, hopefully they weren’t looking past the Hitmen.
“It was a hard fought game.” said Head Coach Brent Sutter following the extra time win by his charges, the Red Deer Rebels.
From the opening face off, the 3546 in attendance could tell that the Rebels came into the game ready for a battle. The team would pound shots all night long towards starting Hitmen netminder, Nick Schneider.
At the midway point of the first period Mason McCarty and Brandon Hagel would work hard and create a two-on-one situation. Hagel would be the decoy while McCarty made his way toward the net. He made no mistake in putting the Rebels up one with a rocket of a wrist shot that beat Schneider high glove side.
The Rebels continued to play disciplined hockey and it paid of when the Hitmen would find themselves down a man. With Dakota Krebs in the penalty box, Red Deer would only need 17 seconds of power play time before they would give themselves a two goal lead. Reese Johnson would get the puck over to Chris Douglas just outside the Hitmen blue line. Douglas would then split the defensemen, streak in on Schneider and poke home his own rebound. It was Douglas’ eighth goal of the season.
“It’s discipline, its playing the right way.It’s not taking the lazy penalty 200 feet from our net, we seemed to take a lot of them in the first half of the year. They’ve been better on that and that’s big when you aren’t sitting in the penalty box.” mentioned Sutter when asked about the discipline shown by the Rebels especially of late. Red Deer has only had six minor penalties and one fighting major over the last four games.
Red Deer would continue it’s solid play throughout the first period, creating chances but not having any luck getting pucks past Schneider or the goal posts. The frame would end with the Rebels maintaining their two goal lead, they also out shot the Hitmen 12-7.
“We had a lot of chances we just didn’t bury them,” said Sutter about the opportunities his team had to blow the doors open on this hockey game.
Despite the lopsided shots on goal in the second period, it would be Calgary who would tally a goal and draw themselves back into the hockey game.
Jake Kryski’s hard work behind the Rebel net would see the puck slide out to the right of Riley Lamb. There were no Rebel’s close enough to get in the way of the puck and Riley Stotts made no mistake in putting the puck over the right shoulder of Lamb. His 15th goal of the year made it a one goal game.
The third period was a much more tight checking affair as neither team wanted to give up the next next as it could make or break it.
Douglas, Brandon Cutler and Arshdeep Bains continued their strong play by generating a lot of chances throughout the night.
When asked about Douglas’ play last night, Sutter had this to say about the 17-year-old forward, “Douglas played well, I thought that line played well. It was an energy line for us, they spent a lot of time in the offensive zone.”
It was the Hitmen though that would pull through. With 5:03 remaining in the game Jakob Stukel would advance into the Rebel end with the puck on his stick. He’d make a move around the net, in an attempted wraparound. His shot would glide through the crease to Conner Chaulk and his 15th would tie the game up at two.
Another few chances for the Rebels would have the crowd gasping but again it was Schneider making stops and getting lucky with his posts.
The game would produce free hockey for the lively crowd.
Hulking defenseman Vladislav Yeryomenko would take a penalty early in the extra frame. As a Rebel forward tried to streak by him, he stuck out his stick and leg and tripped up the advancing man.
It was a penalty Yeryomenko would regret as the Rebels were able to get set up in the four-on-three.
Grayson Pawlenchuk perfectly set up Reese Johnson for a one-timer to the right of Schneider at the face off dot. His shot was a rocket that made it past everyone and into the cage. “We had a four-on-three so I carried her in there just to get it set up and then I was yelling for Pawly (Pawlenchuk) were practicing that lots in the practice and he had an awesome pass to me there.” said Johnson of his game winning goal after the game.
Rebels take this one 3-2. Final shots were Red Deer 38 Calgary 20.
Rebel Yell… The night’s three stars were 1) Nick Schneider (35 saves) 2) Chris Douglas (1 g) 3) Reese Johnson (gwg). The win moved Red Deer 6 points up on the Kootenay Ice for 3rd in the Central Division. The teams meet Friday in Red Deer. Conner Chaulk led the Hitmen with 5 shots, Chris Douglas and Mason McCarty both had 5 for the Rebels. Kristian Reichel was 13-for-20 in the faceoff circle while Mark Kastelic was 11-for-20 for the Hitmen. Alexander Alexeyev left the game late in the third period, his status is currently unknown.