The rivalry between the Lethbridge Hurricanes and the Red Deer Rebels is alive and well. That was proven once again Friday night when the two teams hooked up for an old school hockey game — three scraps, many scrums, and hard hits. In the end, Alex Cotton played the role of hero, snapping home the overtime winner and giving the home team a 4-3 victory.
Head coach Brett Kisio shared his overall thoughts on the victory. “I thought both teams were competing. We weren’t at our best but we found a way to win.”
The Rebels got off to a fast start highlighted by a two-on-one, but Bryan Thomson was equal to the task, keeping them at bay. Then it was Byron Fancy’s turn to stand tall as he stepped up to thwart the Hurricanes power play.
The Hurricanes’ new top power-play unit included newly acquired and former Rebel Brett Davis along with Dylan Cozens and Calen Addison, who both returned to action after being away at the World Juniors.
Fancy got the better of that group on the game’s opening man advantage.
Red Deer struck first in this game, as Cameron Hausinger scored his 10th of the season from Ben King. That gave the visitors some momentum. The Rebels pressured but were unable to convert again.
Koletrane Wilson turned the tide with a thunderous hit, taking out Zak Smith along the boards.
Lethbridge had a chance to tie the game up when Brett Davis collected a loose puck on a broken play. His snapshot beat Fancy to knot the game at 1-1, spurring Davis’ huge celebration as he scored against his former team. His 12th of the season was assisted by Danila Palivko and Cozens.
The period then ended with a few scrums and eventually led to the game’s first fight between unlikely foes in Noah Boyko and Chris Douglas. The Rebels held a shot advantage of 15-9 after one period.
The second period started like the first ended. It seemed after every whistle the players got together in a huddle. The rough stuff cost the Hurricanes, who gifted the Rebels a five-on-three opportunity. Red Deer wasted no time converting as Jayden Grubbe collected his fourth goal of the season and gave the Rebels back the lead.
Then the duo of Cozens and Addison took over the game.
First, it was an end-to-end rush from the Yukon native but he was unable to tuck in the goal. That was followed by some Hurricanes pressure that was capped off by Addison who blasted home a goal from one knee — his eighth of the year — and the game was tied again.
The theme of the night then continued with a couple of fights, again showing no love lost in this Central Division rivalry.
The Hurricanes then took their first lead of the night, as newly appointed co-captain Ty Prefontaine let a bomb go from the point that beat Fancy. That was his second goal of the season assisted by Oliver Okuliar and Cozens. After 40, the Rebels continued to lead the shot clock 28-19.
Over the final 20 minutes of regulation, the scrums and big hits continued. The Hurricanes seemed to control much of the play and managed to close the gap on the shot clock, eventually tying it at 32-32. The Rebels found a way to claw back, as Josh Tarzwell, the former Hurricanes forward, made a beautiful toe drag before snapping home his 20th goal on the season to send the game into overtime. Final shots after 60 minutes read 33-33.
It was end-to-end action in the extra frame, highlighted by a huge stop by each goalie.
Fancy stood tall when Justin Hall found Logan Barlage all alone in front of the net, while back at the other end shortly after, it was Thomson shutting the door on a couple of in-close chances. Those saves by Thomson proved huge. As the Hurricanes headed the other way, Okuliar dropped the puck to Alex Cotton who made no mistake firing one past the glove of Fancy for the game winner. That was Cotton’s 13th goal of the season and team-leading fourth game winner.
Kisio was asked about his new top trio of Okuliar-Cozens-Davis. “It’s their first game. I thought once they got going they found their rhythm.” The bench boss clearly has high hopes for his stars.
Shooting the breeze:
The Hurricanes power play was a non-factor at 0-for-2. The Rebels converted one time in three chances while a man up. Lethbridge held a slight edge in the faceoff dot, winning 28 of 48 draws.
Byron Fancy was outstanding for Red Deer, making 32 stops, while his counterpart, Bryan Thomson, was equal to the task with 31 saves.
Both organizations skated with newly named captains in this one. Red Deer named veteran defencemen Ethan Sakowich as the team’s new leader while Lethbridge chose co-captains Ty Prefontaine and Dylan Cozens, who will alternate games wearing the ‘C’. Prefontaine took the first spin with the ‘C’ on Friday night — Cozens will wear it in Saturday’s game.
The win extended two streaks. The Hurricanes point streak is now at eight games, going 6-0-2-0 in those games. The Rebels’ struggles continue as they have now dropped four straight with the lone point over those four games coming in this contest.
Next up for the Rebels is a Saturday night game. They head home to welcome the Prince Albert Raiders, who are coming off an overtime game themselves, beating Edmonton 2-1. Also on Saturday night, the Hurricanes head east to Medicine Hat to take on the Tigers. The Tigers have been off since last Saturday when they beat Mosse Jaw in a track meet 7-5.