When a team is looking for something inspiring to happen, often times it looks to their leadership for answers. Other times in the Western Hockey League the team will look to their import players to provide that inspirational spark.
Last night the Red Deer Rebels got it from Kristian Reichel. His three goals last night would give him 23 on the season, which is good for second most on the team behind Mason McCarty. The three goals were very important as two would come on the power play and his final goal would be scored short handed. He also scored what would be the eventual game winner.
It wasn’t all good news for the now 17-25-10-3 Rebels. 26 seconds into the game Riley Lamb went to play the puck behind the Rebel net and he let it slide right past him. There was Brendan Semchuk waiting for the loose puck. He put a pass to the front of the net and Kobe Mohr was open enough to get his stick on the puck and redirect it past Lamb. It was his seventh goal of the season and a very early lead for the Oil Kings.
Special teams play would be important to get the Rebels rolling. Try Fix-Wolansky would take a five minute cross checking major against Reichel and Red Deer would get a big opportunity to tie the game up.
And they did. A nice tic-tac-toe play between Reichel, Brandon Hagel and Mason McCarty would lead to McCarty’s 28th goal of the season. No other goals would sneak past Todd Scott in the remaining short-handed time.
David Kope would earn himself a breakaway while short-handed. This time it was denied by Lamb who got his pad kicked out just in time.
The teams would head down the tunnels with the game tied at one a piece. Red Deer out shot the Oil Kings 9-6 in the frame.
It would be the Rebels turn for an early start, scoring their second power play goal of the night at 3:37. Grayson Pawlenchuk would fire a pass across the ice to a waiting Reichel who would take one step and fire a slap shot past Scott to give the Rebels their first lead, and they wouldn’t look back.
With time dwindling down in the second period, again the Rebels would find themselves on the power play. Mason McCarty would give the puck to Reichel in almost the same spot as his prior goal and he would hammer another shot past Scott. The goal would give Red Deer a 3-1 lead.
Just 1:16 later it was Arshdeep Bains getting into the action. His second goal of the season came from a chance by Jacob Herauf. Herauf took a shot on Scott and it bounced a bit to the side of the net. Bains was able to fight off the defender and put the puck up and under the crossbar behind Scott.
Red Deer went to the dressing room with the most confidence they have had since the beat the Oil Kings 7-3 on the opening night of the season.
The Rebels directed 19 shots on Scott while the Oil Kings were able to muster nine on Lamb in the second period.
With Arshdeep Bains in the penalty box, the hats would come raining down from the 4729 fans in attendance. Hagel beat everyone to a puck that was dumped down the ice, he then passed the puck out front to a waiting Reichel. His shot would hit the back crossbar before banking off Scott and back into the net. Reichel threw three fingers in the air after he took his glove off and the team was smiling following that goal.
“Hags is unbelievable player. He has nice passes and Cuts (Brandon Cutler) is like the tough guy who can battles and win dirty pucks, we have everything and we score some goals.” Reichel said of his linemates following his first star nomination.
Wyatt McLeod would serve four minutes for drawing blood on Pawlenchuk with a little more than 12 minutes to play in the game. Most of the penalty had been served before Kope out worked a few Rebel players and made his way in on Lamb. He would slide a puck between the pads of Lamb and make it 5-2. It was Kope’s eighth goal of the season.
Red Deer was not finished. They would add two more goals just 36 seconds apart. First Brandon Hagel would use Herauf as a decoy on a two-on-one and score with a wrist shot. Then Hunter Donohoe would tap his stick as the third man in on a rush. He trailed the play just enough to be forgotten and the pass from Josh Tarzwell was perfectly placed. Donohoe would be all alone in the slot and his wrist shot would sail past Scott to make it 7-2.
“We were solid. After the first 20 seconds of the game we were a pretty good hockey team and obviously our specialty teams were good,” said Head Coach and GM Brent Sutter following the game.
An awful lot of offense on this night and the Rebels faithful went home happy. Red Deer is now 7-0-2-0 in their last nine games and they have closed the gap to four points behind the Kootenay ICE who also won on the night.
Rebel Yell… The three stars were 1) Kristian Reichel (3 goals, 2 ppg, 1 shg, game winning goal, 1 assist) 2) Dawson Barteau (2 assists) 3) Mason McCarty (1 goal 2 assists). Reichel led all players with 7 shots, Colton Kehler had 6 for the Oil Kings. Tomas Soustal was 8-for-12 in the faceoff circle and Reese Johnson was 16-of-24. These teams will face off for the final time his season this afternoon at 1:30 Mountain time, in Edmonton. The game will broadcast across Canada on Sportsnet. Alexander Alexeyev is expected to join the team today following some travel delays.