Recent events for the Red Deer Rebels had caused the team to be on a six-game win-less slide. The Rebels managed just two points over that losing streak and were headed into action against the Western Conference leading Everett Silvertips.
But on their way to Everett they ran into some problems with traffic and the game scheduled for last night was played on Thursday night instead, creating a three-games-in-three-nights situation for the Rebels. On the road no less.
The Silvertips didn’t have it any easier, they also now play a three-in-three, and then add in a double-dip in Prince George on Monday and Tuesday.
You’d think that with these teams meeting only once a season, there would be some feeling out process in the early stages of this game. There was not.
For two teams that don’t play each other often, the first period was a penalty filled affair. The two teams took 11 penalties between them. This included a fight between Jacob Herauf and Max Patterson which wasn’t really much of a fight.
Neither team could get their power play to score despite each of them having opportunities to take the lead.
“Our penalty kill was huge tonight, our power play still needs to get going, but other than that I really liked the way that we played.” said Associate Coach Brad Flynn following the game about the Rebels special teams play.
The first period ended the way it started, both teams headed to the locker room without scoring.
It wouldn’t take long for the game to open up in the second period. A carried over penalty for the Rebels was killed off but Robbie Holmes made it 1-0 just 25 seconds later. His shot came from the extreme right of Ethan Anders and made it through the smallest of areas to hit the mesh.
It was Holmes’ first goal since joining the Silvertips back on January 10th at the trade deadline, a span of 12 games.
Holmes nearly went from hero to goat in the same period. His high sticking penalty was of the four minute variety as he drew blood on a Rebels player. The fans were not impressed by the penalty call but there was certainly a cut to show for it.
Nine shots over the four minute power play were stopped by Silvertips goaltender Dustin Wolf and the lead was kept safe.
Red Deer continued to apply pressure for the duration of the second period, playing another excellent road period. Unfortunately for the team, they weren’t able to beat Wolf and the teams headed to the dressing room with the Silvertips holding onto the single goal lead.
Everett played the third period much harder out of the gate. Red Deer appeared to be back on its heals and they were the team that needed to score the tying goal. The time was ticking off the clock for Red Deer to find a way to sneak a puck past Wolf.
Their best chance of the night came after the media time out in the third period. Cameron Hausinger made a long lead pass to Brandon Hagel. He had nearly half the ice between he and Wolf on a breakaway. His deke move worked as he made no mistake putting the puck home for the tying goal.
It appeared that the Rebels luck was turning.
With about seven minutes remaining, the Silvertips had successive chances to retake the lead but the Rebels netminder was up to the task, denying them twice within seconds.
The Silvertips also had a glorious opportunity clang off the post. The fans in the arena were oohing and awing.
Red Deer was able to push the Silvertips to overtime.
The three-on-three overtime was thrilling for both sides. The Rebels had four shots to the Silvertips one but both teams generated decent opportunities to win but a shootout was needed.
Following three rounds of the shootout neither team had scored. Then the Silvertips Jake Christiansen scored. Red Deer needed a goal and Jeff de Wit delivered.
The next shooter was Max Patterson for the Silvertips and he didn’t score. Defenseman Alexander Alexeyev was the hero for the Rebels as he beat Wolf cleanly for the win.
Everett Silvertips Head Coach Dennis Williams was not impressed with his team’s overall game, “I didn’t like it that much, we were inconsistent after the first period. We sat back after the goal, we were fortunate enough to get a point, Wolf bailed us out tonight.”
The Rebels on the other hand were pretty happy with their game.
“I really liked our compete level,” said Rebels associate coach Brad Flynn. “I think that the last three games have been three of our best games since November. Anders had a great game tonight and then we just had total buy-in from the top of our line up right down to the last guy.”
When asked about the turning of fortunes for the Rebels following their shootout win, Flynn added, “I worked for a coach in the Quebec League and his big thing was always ‘the game is always fair.’ When you cheat the game you don’t usually get the rewards or goals that you want at the right times. That happened to us during that little stretch and then it happened the last two games, we deserved a better fate. The hockey gods thought they would cash in on some of the games we shouldn’t have won and did. They must have thought we made our penance because Hagel had a big goal for us and we played well for 65 minutes. You could tell they deserved it because of the smiles on their faces.”
Red Deer heads to Kent, Washington to take on the Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday night, they’ll hope that the hockey gods have allowed them to get back on track and settle in for the stretch run.
Rebel Yell… The three stars were Ethan Anders, Dustin Wolf and Robbie Holmes. Both players named Reese/Reece lead their teams in the faceoff dot, Johnson was 10-of-18 while Vitelli was 13-of-17. Cameron Hausinger had 7 shots on Wolf and three players for Everett had 5 shots a piece. Neither team could score on the power play. Red Deer was 0-for-5 and Everett went 0-for-4. 76 shots hit the net, each goalie made 38 saves.
Playoff watch… Red Deer moved two points up on Calgary for the first wild card position. They are now three points behind Lethbridge for third in the central division. Medicine Hat is four points ahead of Red Deer and Edmonton holds the division title by seven points over the Rebels.