Rebels come on out on top of high scoring affair with Raiders
Rebels 8 Raiders 6
PRINCE ALBERT — The Red Deer Rebels went on a scoring spree Wednesday evening and they needed almost every goal.
The Rebels hooked up with the host Prince Albert Raiders in a game that was entertaining for the 2,265 fans at the Art Hauser Centre, but also one that neither coaching staff probably enjoyed, with the visitors coming out on the long end of an 8-6 count.
The Rebels showed that it might be that kind of high-scoring contest when they connected just 25 seconds into the game. Jace Weir’s shot from the point bounced off netminder Cole Tisdale and Blake Stevenson cashed the rebound.
Seven minutes later, Ben King scored from the low slot, beating Tisdale low to the stick side during a Red Deer power play, and the Rebels were up two. It was King’s 22nd of the season and league-leading 12th with a man advantage.
“I thought our guys were ready to play, getting the 2-0 lead,” said Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk.
The hosts cut the deficit in half when Sloan Stanick split the Rebels defence and beat goaltender Chase Wutzke through the wickets in the final minute of the opening frame, setting the stage for a second period that produced five goals and a third that featured six more.
Kalan Lind made it a 3-1 game early in the second, burying an offering from the low slot. Referee Fraser Lawrence waived it off, ruling Jace Isley had gloved the puck down just seconds before, but a video review confirmed it was a good goal.
Jhett Larson gave the Rebels a three-goal cushion shortly after, scoring on a forehand to backhand deke from in tight, before Hayden Pakkala deflected a shot by Ozzie Wiesblatt past Wutzke during a Raiders power play.
Isley scored short-handed at the midway point of the period, jamming the puck home after Tisdale lost it in his skates, but the Raiders responded again before the period was over, Vladislav Shilo tucking in a backhand from the edge of the crease.
“It was just kind of a ropey dope type of game,” said Konowalchuk. “We got enough to get ahead, then we relaxed or took careless penalties to put them back in the game.
“It takes away some of your momentum but then we were able to go right back at them.”
Indeed, after Stanick closed the gap once again with a backhand goal from a sharp angle at 3:34 of the final frame, the Rebels sniped three markers in a span of roughly four minutes.
Liam Keeler cashed in on a give-and-go with Stevenson, Carter Anderson unleashed a quick shot after Keeler fed him from behind the goal, and Stevenson broke down the right side and caught the far corner of the net.
The Raiders notched the game’s final two goals, Shilo scoring both — the second on the power play — to complete a hat trick.
The Rebels were assessed more than their share of penalties as the Raiders were two-for-eight on the power play and Red Deer was one-for-three. The visitors took four of the five penalties called in the second period alone.
“That’s too many (penalties) and I think we deserved them all,” said Konowalchuk. “I just thought we also deserved a couple more power plays early in the game.
“It was one of those games where both teams were playing right on the edge, but we have to clean up these penalties.”
Tisdale stopped 14 of the 19 shots he faced before being pulled after Red Deer’s fifth goal. Tikhon Chaika turned aside 12 of 15 shots in relief.
Wutzke, meanwhile, made 35 saves to record his second straight win, following on the heels of Tuesday’s 7-6 shootout conquest of the Saskatoon Blades.
“He made some good saves for us and gave us a chance to win,” Konowalchuk said of the 15-year-old, selected in the second round of the WHL Prospects Draft earlier this month.
Wutzke and Justen Maric were pressed into action due to the unavailability of regular stoppers Connor Ungar, who’s out with an undisclosed ailment, and Chase Coward, who is day-to-day with a lower body injury.
Maric played just the first period in Saskatoon before Wutzke took over and kept the crease.
“I believe he has a good future in the WHL if he keeps working, and from what I’ve seen I don’t know why he wouldn’t,” said Konowalchuk. “He certainly played well for us yesterday and today.”
— The WHL (@TheWHL) December 30, 2021
Notable: The Rebels will complete what has turned from a four-game into a three-game road trip Friday against the Moose Jaw Warriors. Red Deer was originally slated to close out the trip New Years Day in Brandon, but that game was postponed due to capacity restrictions in place in the province of Manitoba. The game will be played Feb. 7 . . . Stevenson enjoyed a four-point night with two goals and a pair of helpers, while Keeler had a goal and two assists. The veteran forwards were selected as the game’s first and second stars. Star No. 3 was Shilo.