The Red Deer Rebels and Calgary Hitmen have played in a lot of close games against each other this season, and thanks in large part to Calgary’s goaltender, Wednesday night at the Enmax Centrium was no exception.
Nick Schneider was good, but the Rebels found a way to pull out a 3-2 overtime victory.
“Hard fought game. We had lots of opportunities offensively, we just didn’t bury our chances,” noted Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. "Overall, I’m happy with two points. This time of the year, points are big. We had some quality scoring chances, we just didn’t capitalize on them. We have to get better at that."
Mason McCarty opened the scoring for Red Deer with his team leading 34th goal of the season 9:10 into the first period.
Chris Douglas made it 2-0 when he went to the net and poked his own rebound past Schneider for his eighth goal of the year at the 14:07 mark.
Riley Stotts put Calgary on the board 6:39 into period two, beating Rebels goaltender Riley Lamb for his 15th goal of the year.
Conner Chaulk tied the game for the Hitmen with 5:03 remaining in the third period.
In overtime, Vladislav Yeryomenko took a tripping penalty and the Rebels capitalized as Reese Johnson blasted home a one-timer for his 20th goal of the season. The goal 2:12 into the extra frame gave the Rebels another two important points in the standings.
“I carried in there just to get it set up and I was yelling for Pawly, we have been practising that lots and he made an awesome pass,” Johnson said about the goal.
Final shots on goal were 38-20 in favour of Red Deer. The Rebels went 2/5 on the power play while holding Calgary to 0/1 with the man advantage.
Avoiding needless trips to the sin bin, Sutter says, has been key in recent Rebels success.
"It’s discipline, playing the right way . . . not taking the lazy penalties 200 feet from our net which we seemed to take a lot of in the first half of the year," he pointed out. “But they’ve been better at that and that’s big when you’re not sitting in the penalty box.”
Rebels defenceman Jacob Herauf had a solid outing versus Calgary with three assists.
Alexander Alexeyev left the game for Red Deer in the third period with an upper body injury and did not return.
Next up for the Rebels is the first of three remaining head to head battles versus the Kootenay Ice. The game goes Friday night at the Enmax Centrium at 7 p.m. (106.7 The Drive).
Red Deer leads Kootenay by six points for the third and final playoff spot in the WHL Central Division. The Rebels also have one game in-hand on the Ice heading into Friday's game.
With their win on Wednesday, the Rebels finished February with an impressive 9-3-1-0 record.
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