Mason McCarty notched a hat trick on the way to a 5-4 win for the Red Deer Rebels over the Kootenay Ice on Thursday at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook.
However, the home squad made it interesting near the end of the game, as a comeback fell just short by the time the seconds ticked away in the final period.
The Rebels struck early and often as the Ice spotted their opponents a three-goal lead in the opening frame before pulling up their socks and making a game of it over the final 40 minutes.
Despite the late pushback, Ice head coach James Patrick clearly wasn’t happy with the way his team opened the game.
“I’m not taking a moral victory out of it because you can’t show up in this league, spot a team a three goal lead and wait 15 minutes before you’re ready to play,” he said. “It’s on me if the team’s not ready to play; they weren’t ready to play and our key guys weren’t ready to play.”
Kurtis Chapman got the start for the Ice, making 24 saves in defeat while Rebels netminder Lasse Petersen made 30 stops for the win.
Red Deer also made the Ice pay on the powerplay, scoring twice with the man-advantage, while Kootenay was denied on all four of their chances.
The first two goals were nearly carbon-copies of each other as the Ice had troubles with defensive coverage in their own zone. Reese Johnson banged home a feed from behind the net just over three minutes into the affair, while McCarty tallied his first by the halfway mark.
McCarty notched his second marker of the game cutting in from the sidewall and picking the top corner a few minutes after his first goal to give the Rebels a commanding lead.
Whatever happened in the intermission must have sparked the Ice because they came out flying and Vince Loschiavo put Kootenay on the board, followed by a nice finish from Colton Veloso on a cross-ice pass from Barrett Sheen a minute later to make it a one goal game early in the second period.
The two teams held each other scoreless until the final frame, when Kristian Reichel put Red Deer ahead by two on the powerplay with a wrister from the blueline.
Both teams traded goals after that as Alec Baer created a turnover from the neutral zone, skated in and sneaked a shot past Petersen, while Red Deer restored their two-goal lead when McCarty completed his hat trick late in the period.
With seven seconds left, Colton Kroeker centred the puck from the corner, which deflected off the skate of Sheen and into the net, however, the Ice weren’t able to complete the comeback.
On the scoresheet, Brandon Hagel also made an impact with three assists for the Rebels, while Grayson Pawlenchuk also tallied a pair of helpers.
There was a bit of sibling rivalry in the air as Ice defenceman Ryan Pouliot faced off against his younger brother, Sam Pouliot, also a defenceman, with the Rebels.
As always, bragging rights are on the line, but the elder Ice defenceman didn’t mix it up too much with his younger brother.
“It was pretty crazy, it’s the first time I’ve ever played against him in my life,” said Ryan. “It was nice to see him out there, so it was cool.”
In addition to the family feud, it was also the first time that the Ice got to see what they had in Jeff de Wit, who was acquired in a trade from the Regina Pats for Tanner Sidaway and a seventh round draft pick.
“Definitely a hectic few days here, but I’m excited for the opportunity ahead,” said de Wit. “I’m excited for the opportunity ahead and I felt tonight we were there, but you can’t give a team a three-goal lead in the first period.”
“It’s tough to win in this league doing that.”
Patrick said he noticed the impact his new player brought to the team.
“Jeff, I thought he showed he can hang onto pucks, he’s a big body, he skates pretty good, he can make plays,” Patrick said. “I felt bad; in the third there, we got into a special teams battle and that took away some of the ice time — he hasn’t been here to work on any of those areas, so I didn’t use him…but I really liked what he brought tonight.”
NOTES: The Rebels had a disallowed goal in the second period on a point shot that was redirected in off a high stick…attendance was announced at 2238…Ice defenceman and captain Cale Fleury sat out his third and final game after receiving a cross-check major penalty against Edmonton on Oct. 1.