For just the second time in their last 14 games, the Red Deer Rebels lost in regulation.
It was also the first time since January 12th that the Rebels allowed six goals in a game. Ethan Anders and Riley Lamb have been playing some great hockey of late, winning three of the last four WHL goaltender of the week awards.
Last night it was Lamb getting the start and he was pulled for the first time in game action since he allowed four first period goals to Swift Current Broncos on January 7th.
Things didn’t start all bad for Red Deer. A loose puck in the corner behind Nick Schneider was picked up by Mason McCarty and he got the Rebels on the board a little over five minutes into the game.
A little over four minutes later, the Hitmen broke out of their zone with some nifty passing. The puck would wind up on the stick of Riley Stotts who found an open Jakob Stukel in the slot and he wasted no effort in tying the game at one. Lamb was beaten through the five hole and Stukel had his 28th goal of the season.
Calgary out shot Red Deer ten to eight in the first 20 minutes and the teams would head for intermission knotted at one.
The Hitmen came out firing in the second period. Just two days before his 18th birthday, Tristen Neilsen would score his 13th goal of the year. On a delayed penalty call, the Hitmen would escape their zone, get the puck up to Cael Zimmerman who would then thread a pass to Neilsen. His shot would go right through the outstretched glove of Lamb and give the Hitmen the 2-1 lead.
Just beyond the halfway mark of the second period. A Jake Kryski shot hit Lamb in the left pad. The rebound would go right to a tied up Luke Coleman who fought off the Rebel defender just enough to poke the puck into the open cage.
Head Coach Brent Sutter had seen enough of his team’s poor effort and tried to provide a spark to his charges, pulling Lamb at this point in favour of Ethan Anders.
The spark would come in the most peculiar form. With Kristian Reichel in the box for high-sticking, it would be Brandon Hagel picking up an errant Hitmen pass. He would scoop the puck up at the opposing blue-line and be in all alone on Schneider. His little move before taking a shot would make Schneider pause just enough to sneak a puck under his glove hand and bring the Rebels back to within one.
Before the second period buzzer, the Rebels would come back and tie the game at three. Now 33 goal man, Mason McCarty would find the puck in a scramble and take two shots at the Hitmen net. His second shit found pay dirt and the game was tied up.
Just 32 seconds into the third period, it would be the Rebels retaking their first period lead. Reichel scooped up a rebound on a Dawson Barteaux shot and made it 4-3 visitors.
That would be all the Rebels could muster and the Hitmen would turn up the heat to burn the Rebels chances of a five game winning streak.
One minute and 32 seconds would be all the time the Hitmen needed to re-tie the game at four. Stukel would set up shop behind the Rebels net and wait for an opportunity to make a pass. Opportunity struck when Kryski cruised into the slot. His quick shot would result in his 11th goal of the year.
As the game approached the midway point the Hitmen’s fifth different goal scorer would strike. This time it was Vladislav Yeryomenko with a wrist shot from the point making it past all kinds of traffic and the Rebel netminder. This would prove to be the game winner and it was Yeryomenko’s 12th goal of the season.
With time winding down, Sutter pulled Anders for the extra attacker. This time the move would backfire, with 1:01 to play Riley Stotts grabbed his 13th goal of the year, putting the puck in the empty net. Hagel misplayed the puck behind his own net, Stukel gave him a little check and swiped the puck to the front of the net. Stotts just had to slide it over the goal line to finish this one off.
Rebel Yell… The three stars on the night were 1) Jake Kryski (2g,1a) 2) Mason McCarty (2g) 3) Jakob Stukel (1g,2a). Nick Schneider made 19 save on 23 shots. Riley Lamb was 16 of 19 and Anders was 8 of 10. McCarty led all players with 6 shots on net while Stukel had 5 for the Hitmen. Red Deer struggled in the faceoff circle, Reese Johnson was the Rebels best at 9-of-17 while Mark Kastelic went 17-of-22. Neither team scored on the power play. Red Deer was 0-for-1 and Calgary went 0-for-2. Jordan Borysiuk was called up to the Rebels before tonight’s game, he was not in the lineup. The next action for the Rebels is Friday when they play host to the Prince Albert Raiders. Calgary hosts the Edmonton Oil Kings on Friday night as well.