Raiders goalie the difference in 3-2 win over Rebels
Photo by Rob Wallator
Raiders 3 Rebels 2
The effort was there, the execution . . . not so much.
The Red Deer Rebels directed 42 shots at Prince Albert Raiders back-up netminder Nicholas Sanders Friday, but managed only a pair of goals in a 3-2 Western Hockey League loss witnessed by 4,800 fans at the Centrium.
With the game knotted at 2-2 after 40 minutes, the hosts peppered Sanders with 18 shots — including several he never saw — in the third period, but the Raiders pulled out the victory with a power-play goal at 14:51.
Defenceman Brayden Pachal potted the winner when his shot from the left faceoff circle deflected off a Red Deer stick and past netminder Lasse Petersen.
It was that kind of night for the Rebels, who dropped to .500 with a 20-20-4-3 record. The visitors, meanwhile, posted just their ninth win of the season.
Red Deer GM/head coach Brent Sutter was critical of forward Jordan Roy, whose kneeing infraction led to the decisive goal.
“We had our chances, but again, it’s a tight game and you take a bad penalty in the last six minutes of the game,” said Sutter. “You can’t play that way, it’s like playoff hockey and if guys like that are going to take penalties they’re not going to play, it’s that simple.
“Our penalty kill hasn’t been good all year and when you’re in a position like that you just can’t take a penalty like that.”
The Raiders led 1-0 after one period on a goal by Jordy Stallard, who moved into the low slot and beat Petersen to the glove side.
Michael Spacek picked up a stretch pass from Brandon Hagel, broke in alone and slid the puck through Sanders’ pads to pull the Rebels even just 1:37 into the second period.
It was Spacek’s 20th goal of the season and Evan Polei scored his 20th seven minutes later to give the Rebels a 2-1 lead. Red Deer captain Adam Musil, from the high slot, rang a shot off the cross-bar and Polei jumped on the puck lying loose in the crease.
But with the middle frame winding down, Parker Kelly knocked a bouncing puck into the Red Deer net, setting the stage for a dominant third period for the home side.
Sanders, 0-9-1-2 entering the contest, rose to the occasion and yet somehow avoided being selected as one of the game’s three stars when in fact he was the major factor in the outcome.
“We have to bear down on our scoring chances. Our power play has to be better too,” said Musil. “It was a tough loss. Those are the teams we have to beat.”
The Rebels were one-for-five with a man advantage despite moving the puck around, sustaining pressure and creating scoring chances. The Raiders were one-for-four on the power play, picking the most opportune time to cash in.
“We had lots of opportunities, their goalie played well,” said Sutter. “But at the end of the day you have to get points at this time of the year. You can’t afford to do the things we did, like take the late penalty and they score a power-play goal in the last six minutes.
“You can’t play that way at this time of the year. You just can’t.”
The Victoria Royals, who rocked the host Calgary Hitmen 7-2 Friday, visit the Centrium Saturday.
“I think almost everything,” said Musil, when asked what the Rebels will have to improve on in order to knock off the 26-18-4-0 Royals. “Victoria is a much better team than (the Raiders).
“For us, we have to stick to our structure and play hard. That’s what we are. If we do that it gives ourselves a good chance to win.”
Just notes: Petersen made 24 saves . . .The three stars were (1) Stallard, (2) Spacek and (3) Kelly.