After laying an egg Friday night, the Red Deer Rebels brought a much improved effort to the Enmax Centrium on Saturday.
The Edmonton Oil Kings were equal to the task, setting the stage for a mid-season classic the Rebels would win 2-1 in a shootout in front of 4231 boisterous fans.
“It was more of a playoff-type game. It was tight, both goalies were really good. From our perspective, I just thought our whole game was completely different than (Friday),” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said.
A scary moment occurred as a goalless first period came to an end. Rebels defenceman Jacob Herauf collided with Oil Kings defender Matthew Robertson deep in Rebels territory. Robertson took the brunt of the collision and remained down on the ice for several minutes before being carted off on a stretcher.
Despite several superb scoring chances at both ends neither team was able to hang one on the scoresheet in the second period. Goalies Ethan Anders for Red Deer and Dylan Myskiw for Edmonton took turns making save after save after save.
The Rebels power play finally came through with 7:48 left to play in the third period as Jeff de Wit banged home a rebound for his 20th goal of the season. The goal ended Red Deer’s scoreless drought at 166 minutes and 39 seconds.
Edmonton tied the game with 2:16 left to play as Conner McDonald fired a shot off the post and past Anders sending this game to overtime.
The entire rink thought Brandon Hagel won the game for Red Deer in the opening minute of the extra period, but video replay showed his shot in fact hit the iron and stayed out of the Oil Kings net.
Cameron Hausinger, the Rebels’ fourth shooter, scored the lone goal of the shootout to earn his team the extra point.
Edmonton outshot Red Deer 39-30 on the night and went 0-for-2 on the power play while the Rebels were 1-for-4.
“It’s probably his best game he has had in a while. He was sharp and we need that from him,” Sutter said of Anders.
“If you want to be a starting goalie in this league and move on to the next level, you have to play that way. You have to play that way if you want to be a number one guy and he got away from that. He was challenged today and he responded to the challenge.”
“You don’t see a whole lot of that these days. (Dylan) Myskiw played an awesome game as well, so it was good for us,” said Anders of the low scoring affair. “It’s a confidence booster right off the bat, make a big save and you’re like ‘okay, have to keep the team in it,’ and give them something to go out there and put the puck in the net.”
Red Deer now sits one point back of Edmonton for first place in the WHL Central Division. The Rebels have played four fewer games than the Oil Kings.
“Our awareness was much better, we did a good job of being alert and doing the things we had to do in our team game,” Sutter felt. “I thought a lot of games, played a lot better here. This time of year, there’s going to be a lot of one-goal games and you gotta learn to play in them and play the game the right way within it.”
The Rebels and Oil Kings meet again Sunday at 4 p.m. at Rogers Place in Edmonton. The game can be heard on 106.7 THE DRIVE starting at 3:50 p.m.
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