When a team is able to put up three goals in the first period of a game, chances are they are going on to collect two points.
The Regina Pats were able to do just that, as they snuck a win from the Red Deer Rebels 4-3 in front of 3,869 fans.
Rookie netminder Chase Coward picked up his first WHL start. It did not go as well as planned, as he allowed three goals on six shots in the first period before head coach Brent Sutter replaced him with Byron Fancy.
“It was a good experience for a young goalie, too, in the first period. He even said after the first, ‘things are a lot quicker here than it is in midget hockey.’ It was hard for him, a great experience,” Sutter said.
“When he goes back to midget, he can understand the difference between midget and major junior, especially when you’re a goaltender. I was proud of our team. I thought we played really hard.”
Regina got themselves on the board early when the Rebels turned the puck over on their way out of the defensive zone. Ty Kolle was the recipient of the wayward puck. and he was all alone in front of Coward. A quick move and the puck was up and over the 16-year-old netminder to give the Pats the lead less than two minutes into the game.
The Rebels worked hard to keep the puck in the Pats end of the ice, and it paid off less than five minutes later. Ethan Sakowich scored his sixth goal of the season when he kept the puck in at the blue line and rocketed a wrist shot towards Max Paddock. The twine behind him bent and the Rebels had a tie game.
14 seconds later, the Pats had their lead back. It was just their second shot of the period. Recent pickup Carson Denomie scored on the rush when no Rebel players picked him up. The pass from Logan Nijhoff was right on the tape, and a wrist shot on the rush blew past Coward.
Following a lengthy review and a lot of head-scratching by fans in the building, it was ruled that the kicked-in goal by Chris Douglas on the power play was a good goal. Douglas was parked just outside the crease area. Once again, the teams were tied.
Kolle made it a 3-2 lead for the Pats before the period was out. From the same circle as his first goal, another wrist shot made it by Coward. This time the goal came on the power play.
Despite outshooting the Pats 18-6, the Rebels just could not tie things up before the teams headed down the tunnel.
Byron Fancy made his way between the pipes for the Rebels to start the second period. He only gave up one goal to the Pats but it was the eventual game-winner. He finished the night with 17 saves.
Robbie Holmes parked himself in front of the net and gave the puck a couple of pokes while it was in the crease area. With 7:20 to play in the second period, Holmes’ 10th goal of the season gave the Pats a 4-2 lead.
Red Deer continued to apply pressure to the Pats throughout the second and third periods. The team out-chanced and outshot the visitors 2-1, but Paddock and his posts and crossbar kept the Rebels mostly at bay.
On an early third-period power play, the rebels did climb back to within a goal when Cameron Hausinger wired a shot past Paddock. His fifth of the season was as close as the Rebels could get.
“I thought we played well. You out-chance them two-to-one and outshoot them two-to-one. It was a good game. We did a really good job in a lot of areas. We created a lot of offence and got scoring chances. Pretty good in our own zone, too,” said Sutter.
17 of Red Deer’s 48 shots came from the line of Hausinger, Jayden Grubbe, and Josh Tarzwell. Several other chances rang off the post. They also had been on the ice together for the Rebels’ third goal.
“They played well in Swift, too,” Sutter said of the forward combination.
“It’s a heavy line. They’re big guys, and when they’re moving their feet and skating and they’re hard on pucks. I thought that line played well. I thought everyone was pretty good.”
Max Paddock finished the game with 45 saves on 48 shots for the Pats in the win.
Rebel Yell… The three stars in the building were 1) Ty Kolle 2) Chris Douglas 3) Ethan Sakowich… Tarzwell had 7 shots on the Pats net; Holmes led the way for the Pats with 5. Red Deer was 2-for-7 on the man advantage; Regina was 1-for-3. Brett Davis was 17-for-22 in the faceoff circle to lead all players. Both teams play on Sunday. Regina heads north to Edmonton to battle the Oil Kings, while Red Deer heads south to take on the Hitmen for their teddy bear toss game at 4 PM local time.