Rebels finally rewarded on road; losing streak over
Rebels 4 Chiefs 3 (OT)
SPOKANE — The Red Deer Rebels had turned in two mostly solid efforts on a three-game Western Conference trip heading into Friday’s final contest.
After losing the first two outings, the Rebels finally hit paydirt with perhaps their best performance of the four-day jaunt, downing the Spokane Chiefs 4-3 in overtime before 4,603 fans at Veterans Memorial Arena.
“Overall, on the trip, we played really well in Victoria (in a 6-4 loss) but just didn’t get it done, and in Everett (in a 4-1 loss to the Silvertips) we played well outside of the first three minutes,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter.
“Tonight we got rewarded.”
Friday’s extra-time result snapped Red Deer’s four-game Western Hockey League losing streak.
“We needed a win, a game where we got rewarded for how we played at certain times,” said Sutter. “We played a good road game here tonight.”
Michael Spacek secured the victory for the visitors with a power-play goal at 4:31 of overtime, his wrister from the high slot finding its way through traffic behind Chiefs goaltender Jayden Sittler.
The Rebels led 2-0 after one period on goals from Jordan Roy and defenceman Ethan Sakowich. Roy banked a shot from close range off a Spokane skate and past Sittler at 9:54 and Sakowich, stationed in the left faceoff circle, sniped his first-ever WHL goal at 14:20, with a one-timer off a feed from Spacek.
Hudson Elynuik pulled the Chiefs within one with the lone goal of the second period — cashing a rebound — and Keanu Yamamoto pulled the hosts even a mere 57 seconds into the third frame.
On the tying goal, Rebels netminder Riley Lamb stopped Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who darted out of the corner and straight to the net, and Yamamoto hammered home a loose puck at the side of the goal.
Austin Pratt restored Red Deer’s lead seven minutes later, whipping a shot into an open net with Sittler down and out, but the Chiefs once again knotted the count when Kailer Yamamoto connected at 16:32 following some major pressure inside the Rebels blueline.
“When we get like that in our own zone we just have to get a little smarter in what we do,” said Sutter, whose squad got caught chasing on the Chiefs’ third goal. “But again, we hung tough, we played hard and we worked.”
Sittler finished with 26 saves, while Lamb stopped 29 shots and was named third star of the game.
“Our goalie was good tonight. He made saves for us and that’s what you need,” said Sutter.
Spacek, who had two assists to go with his winning goal, was selected as the first star and Elynuik was picked as second star.
Red Deer won the special teams battle as well, going one-for-three on the power play and five-for-five on the penalty kill.
The Rebels were scheduled to arrive back in Red Deer Saturday morning and will head east next week on a four-game trip starting Friday in Brandon.