For the 27th time this season, the Rebels gave up the first goal of the game. The goal was scored by Prince Albert Raiders forward Ilya Usau at 5:07 of the first period. His 15th goal of the season was a dandy as he dangled himself around the Rebels defenseman and shot the puck high over the outstretched glove of Ethan Anders.
The rest of the opening frame was a back and forth affair, as neither team wanted to give the other any time or space. Neither goalie needed to be spectacular, but when called upon, they kept the puck out of the back of the net.
The second period started off much the same as neither team really took control of the game in any meaningful way.
Finally, the Rebels caught a break with some sloppy play by the Raiders in their own end. With 11:10 to play in the middle frame, Zak Smith corralled a loose puck in front of Carter Serhyenko. With the puck, Smith spun around and fired the puck through Serhyenko’s five-hole. With his first goal in 10 games, Smith had the teams all knotted up at one.
Smith’s goal was his eighth of the season.
With time winding down on the period, the Raiders positioned themselves to take their lead back. Only 38 seconds remained when Brayden Watts spotted Landon Kosior streaking into the Rebels zone. Watts’ pass was high but Kosior tipped it towards the ice and then wired a shot by Anders on a breakaway. His third goal of the season sent the teams to the dressing room with the Raiders leading 2-1.
It only took a minute and 24 seconds for the Raiders to score in the third period. With the puck loose in the slot, Reece Vitelli scooped the puck to Eric Pearce and he slid the puck behind a fallen Anders.
“It was a heck of a game, really. We were down 3-1 and you look at their goal at the end of the period, it was unfortunate. We just didn’t handle that right coming out of the box and their third goal, we just mishandled the puck at the side of the net,” said Red Deer Rebels General Manager and Head Coach Brent Sutter.
Moments later, a hard skating Dallon Melin beat out the Raiders defense and created a chance when he slid the puck to Keaton Sorensen. The 17-year-old wheeled behind the Raiders net and his wraparound goal was his fifth of the season and reduced the deficit to a single goal.
“We just kept going. It was a big goal by Keaton to get us right back into it quickly,” said Sutter
Zak Smith was the recipient of a cross-ice pass from Arshdeep Bains with the Rebels on their second power play of the night and he made no mistake. His second goal of the night tied the game at three with 14 minutes left to play.
“It was nice, I’ve been struggling lately,” said Smith.
“This year, I’ve been struggling with points but just trying to stick with my game and I think this year I’ve been getting better at different aspects. I think (the) offence was going to come and (Saturday) it did.”
The teams needed extra time despite a flurry of activity in the final five minutes of the third period.
Overtime solved nothing and the teams needed a shootout.
“Then you get a power play and make something happen. You get into overtime, you don’t know how it’s going to work out. This weekend we played hard, we competed and did a lot of really good things,” added Sutter.
All the Rebels needed were the first two shooters, Josh Tarzwell and Ben King, as Anders shut the door on both Raiders attempts.
Rebel Yell… The three stars in the building were 1) Zak Smith 2) Ozzy Wiesblatt 3) Ethan Anders Red Deer was outshot 34-27 including 4-2 in overtime. Four Raiders had four shots apiece while Josh Tarzwell was the leading Rebel shooter, also with four. Red Deer took just one penalty. They were able to kill it off and went 1-for-4 on the power play. Red Deer next plays on Saturday, January 25th, against the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium. Prince Albert moves on to play at home on Friday against the Edmonton Oil Kings. Tonight was the first WHL game for affiliate player, defenseman Trey Patterson. He was a second-round (28th) draft pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft.