From start to finish the Edmonton Oil Kings brought the fight to the Rebels and it resulted in Edmonton using their game in hand over the Lethbridge Hurricanes to pull two points away for the lead in the Central Division.
A relatively even first period saw the Oil Kings score first for the 37th time this season.
Try Fix-Wolansky burst into the Rebel end with speed and used the defenseman as a screen to rip a shot past Ethan Anders. Fix-Wolansky’s goal was his 37th of the season and his 101st point.
Edmonton found themselves in penalty trouble a few moments later, giving Red Deer a two-man advantage.
The trio of Dawson Barteaux, Oleg Zaytsev and Brandon Hagel passed the puck around the Oil Kings end looking to tie the game up. It was a Barteaux point shot that hit the back of the net on a one-timed shot. It sailed through uncontested behind Dylan Myskiw.
The Oil Kings defence was the story in the second period. They kept the Rebels to just three shots. They did it by continuing to win battles for pucks, clearing their zone with speed and creating all kinds of havoc for the Rebels forecheckers.
Things did not look good for the Rebels, save for the glove, blocker and pads of Ethan Anders. He turned aside 17 Oil King shots in the middle 20 minutes to keep the game tied at one apiece.
With four minutes and 12 seconds ticked off the clock in the third period, Vladimir Alistrov gave the Oil Kings a 2-1 lead. The puck was being fought for in the crease area and it popped up in the air. Alistrov was able to bat it in over a downed Anders.
The trouble continued for the Rebels.
Oil Kings forward Vince Loschiavo made it 3-1 with 12:32 to play in the third period, on a power play. A cross ice pass from Quinn Benjafield found Loschiavo wide open to the right of Anders. His one-timed shot gave Anders no chance to make the save.
The Rebels showed some life with another power play marker. Barteaux hammered a shot from the point and with traffic in front of Myskiw. The puck was tipped by Jeff de Wit and into the back of the net to draw the Rebels back to within a single goal with seven and a half minutes to play.
The Rebels then struggled to get the puck out of their zone. With about 90 seconds left in the period, they finally punched it out and made their way into the Oil Kings end. While the team continued to press for a goal, Reese Johnson absolutely hammered a puck off the post on a wide open net.
That was as close as Red Deer would come to tying the game and the Oil Kings went home with the win.
“I didn’t like our last two periods at all. I thought we were very, very average at best we got out-worked, we got out-competed. There wasn’t a forward that I could say I liked here tonight.” said Red Deer GM/head coach Brent Sutter following the game.
“Right from our top players right down we were just too soft. They won all the battles, they got the puck first. Our forecheck tonight was non-existent, we’d put pucks in and no one finished checks. They’d turn around and get the puck and come right back out of their zone and make plays.”
“They’re a good hockey team but you have to play harder than that,” said Sutter. “That’s unacceptable. I’m not going to accept that… For a team that’s fighting to get in the playoffs, you can’t play that way. There has to be more urgency.”
Rebel Yell… The three stars on the night were… Scott Atkinson (2a) Dawson Barteuax (1g,1a) Matthew Robertson (2a). Brett Davis was the best faceoff man for the Rebels (9-of-13) while Scott Atkinson was the best Oil King (10-of-20). Vince Loschiavo led all players with 7 shots and Dawson Barteaux had 4 for Red Deer.
Playoff picture… with the loss Red Deer’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot remains 3 points. Medicine Hat is now in the first wild card spot and Red Deer has dropped to the second. The two teams faceoff on Wednesday night in Medicine Hat.
Dave ‘Radar’ Horning was behind the bench as the Equipment Manager of the Red Deer Rebels for his 2000th WHL game.