A winning streak needed to come to an end on Saturday night. Prince Albert came into Red Deer winners of seven straight to open the season, Red Deer had won four in a row after losing their first two of the season.
Heading into the game, Raiders import forward Sergei Sapago had points in all seven Raiders games (3g-5a) and Rebels import defenseman Alexander Alexeyev had at least a point in all six Rebels games (3g-6a). Both players were looking to extend their point streaks.
An absolutely terrible bounce gave the Raiders a late first period lead with 11.6 remaining on the clock. It was the Raiders 14th shot on net. The teams would head down the tunnel at the buzzer with the score remaining the same. 2019 NHL Draft eligible forward Aliakei Protas scored his fourth of the season.
Early in the second in his 200th WHL game, Brandon Hagel scored his fourth of the season, adding to his team leading point totals. De Wit and Zaytsev picked up the assists. For Hagel it was his 14th point in his seventh game of the season.
The Rebels hottest line all night finally hit pay dirt as Arshdeep Bains scored streaking down the wing to give the Rebels their first lead of the game. His first of the season, Bains took a pass in the glove and it dropped right in front of him. His quick shot fooled Ian Scott and the puck hit the back of the net on the far side.
Sapego scored on a turnover in front of Anders when Chris Douglas tried to make one to many moves and the puck slipped off his stick right to Sapego. He lasered a wrist shot past Anders to cut the Rebels lead to a single goal.
It wouldn’t take long for the Raiders to tie it up at three.
15 seconds later a rebound shot from Brett Leason would get past Anders. Noah Gregor would pick up his sixth point in three games since being sent back from the San Jose Barracuda of the AHL. Gregor’s faceoff win set the table for the Raiders tying goal.
The Rebels had no quit in them though.
With 2:16 to play and the Raiders pressing, Reese Johnson collected a puck in the neutral zone and deked around a defender. He then outlasted the sprawling Ian Scott to score and give the Rebels the lead.
“Obviously a big goal by Johnny.” Sutter said of his captain’s game winning goal late.
It would be enough to stave off the hard charging Raiders.
Despite pulling Scott for the final minute and 16 seconds and calling a time out to rally their troops, the Raiders could not light the red lamp behind Anders. The defense in front of him blocked two shots in the dying seconds to preserve the win and despite putting the puck in the net as the buzzer sounded, the Raiders would be handed their first lost of the 2018-19 WHL Season.
Head Coach Brent Sutter was honest in his appraisal of his team’s win over the fourth best team in the Canadian Hockey League rankings, “Well you gotta win ugly sometimes, they obviously have a very good hockey team. They are an older team, but our young kids battled. We found a way.”
“We had some good shifts, we had some bad shifts, we had some shifts that were hit and miss. We turned the puck over some times or in some areas that you don’t like turning pucks over.” , added Sutter. The team did well to have coverage available on some of the misplays and turnovers, being unscathed by the minor deficiencies in their game.
“We continue to fight and battle and scratch and claw.”
“Credit to the kids though, they didn’t give up, they stayed with it.”
“I think everyone worked hard, that’s what we want, compete. We want to be hard workers every night, we definitely have some areas to clean up,” added captain and game winning goal scorer Reese Johnson.
Rebel Yell… Assistant coach Jeff Truitt made his return to the Centrium, he spent 5+ seasons with the Rebels as an associate coach. There were just five penalties in this contest, four of them of the coincidental variety. The lone power play went to the Raiders when the Rebels had too many men on the ice. Ethan Anders made 49 saves in the win, Ian Scott had 17. Raiders assistant captain Sean Montgomery was 10-for-13 in the faceoff circle, while Rebels captain Reese Johnson was 16-for-23. Carson Sass missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. The Rebels hit the road for games next Friday and Saturday in Saskatoon and Prince Albert. Their next home action is on October 20th as they face off against the Kootenay Ice.