Rebels drop final regular-season game with late collapse
Oil Kings 5 Rebels 4 (OT)
EDMONTON — One day after having their final WHL regular-season game spoiled by the Edmonton Oil Kings before a sell-out throng at the Centrium, the Red Deer Rebels were all set to return the favour Sunday.
The Rebels overcome a 2-0 deficit to forge a 4-2 lead, but then coughed up two goals in the final two minutes of the third period and another in overtime to fall 5-4 before 18,102 fans at Rogers Place.
Trey-Fix Wolansky notched a power-play marker for the hosts, cashing a rebound at 18:29 of the third period, and Colton Kehler scored on a similar play — with Oil Kings goalie Patrick Dea on the bench — 30 seconds later to wipe out Red Deer’s late two-goal lead.
Riley Stadel then completed the Oil Kings’ comeback with a breakaway goal at 3:25 of overtime.
“Terrible,” said Rebels GM-head coach Brent Sutter. “We didn’t give them much at all in the last two periods, we played a solid road game during that time.
“Then in the final minutes we were on the power play and missed an assignment and it cost us with a too-many-men (penalty) and they scored on it. Then we missed coverage in front of our net after they pulled their goalie.”
And in the extra frame . . .
“We had guys who aren’t normally out there in overtime. They didn’t manage it right and it’s in our net on a breakaway,” said the Rebels boss.
The Oil Kings, long ago eliminated from post-season play, closed out their season with three wins in succession. The Rebels, meanwhile, will head into the playoffs — opening their first-round series versus the Lethbridge Hurricanes next Saturday and Sunday on the road — on a two-game losing run, including Saturday’s 4-1 setback at home.
The Oil Kings led 1-0 after one period Sunday on a short-handed goal from Ethan Cap, who converted a pass from Davis Koch on a two-on-none break from inside the hash marks.
The hosts increased their cushion to two at 8:07 of the second period when Tyson Greninger broke down the right side, cut across the low slot and slipped a backhand between the pads of Rebels netminder Riley Lamb.
Evan Polei ignited Red Deer’s comeback with a wrist shot from the left circle just over a minute later — his team-leading 33rd goal of the season — and the Rebels pulled even on Brandon Hagel’s 30th, a power-play tally, in the final minute of the period.
Hagel notched his second goal of the evening on a breakaway at 11:47 of the third stanza and Austin Glover made it 4-2 for the visitors at 14:13 with a backhand from in close.
That set the stage for Edmonton’s dramatic comeback, which left the Rebels with a 30-29-9-4 regular-season record.
The players and coaches will spend this week preparing for the playoffs.
“That’s what we have to do — get focused and be ready to go,” said Sutter.
Notable: Dea turned aside 23 shots as the winning goalie, while Lamb made 32 saves . . . Defenceman Colton Bobyk and forward Michael Spacek, the Rebels’ leading points producer, were healthy scratches . . . Whoever selected the three stars was clearly off the mark, considering Hagel scored twice and collected two assists and wasn’t included among the picks.