Rebels overcome adversity to defeat Chiefs in extra time
Rebels 4 Chiefs 3 (OT)
It felt like spring to Jared Dmytriw.
“It’s playoff hockey, playoff hockey in October,” said the Red Deer Rebels forward, who notched the overtime goal in a 4-3 WHL win over the Spokane Chiefs in front of 4,118 fans Friday at the Centrium.
“It was an exciting game and we showed a lot of character in coming back. We had some adversity throughout the game, a lot of penalties against us. Our penalty kill stepped up tonight and overall it was a great team win.”
The Rebels never led in the contest, trailing 2-0 at one point in the opening period and 3-2 late in the game before Brandon Hagel connected with 39 seconds remaining with goalie Ethan Anders on the bench in favour of an extra attacker. Hagel potted his fourth of the season on a redirect of a point shot by Dawson Barteaux.
That set the stage for an overtime period that the Rebels dominated early when Chiefs forward Zach Fischer was assessed a slashing penalty. The hosts did everything but score with the extra man, with the Chiefs blocking shots left and right, netminder Dawson Weatherill standing tall and Rebels rearguard Alex Alexeyev ringing a shot off the crossbar.
The Rebels wouldn’t be denied, however, as Reese Johnson bolted down the right side and threw a pass in front that Dmytriw tipped past Weatherill at 3:39 while going hard to the net.
“Johny got the puck and he flew down the wing. I didn’t have to do much, just keep my stick on the ice,” said Dmytriw. “He made that whole play.”
The Chiefs raced out to a 2-0 first-period lead on a pair of goals by Hudson Elynuik, the first on a deflection and the second from a scramble.
Red Deer’s Lane Zablocki scored his third of the season — on the power play — with 18 seconds remaining in the opening frame, cashing a rebound from the edge of the crease.
“We talked about it after the first period, that we needed to stay with our game and continue to make sure that that fundamentals in our game are strong,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “No one got rattled when we were down tonight, no one got down on the bench. We just kept plugging away.”
Following a scoreless second period, the Rebels’ persistence finally paid off when Zablocki notched his second of the night — again on the power play — off a cross-crease pass from Hagel at 4:57 of the third stanza.
Nolan Reid restored the visitors’ lead just under nine minutes later, sneaking in from the point and beating Anders with a low wrist shot from the top of the right circle.
That set the stage for Hagel’s late equalizer and Dmytriw’s extra-time winner.
“It was a battle. I thought as the game went further along we got better and better,” said Sutter. ‘Our power play got a couple big goals and our penalty killing in the third was huge.”
Anders played a major role in the Rebels’ penalty kill going six-for-six. He came up with several huge saves, including outstanding second-period glove stabs on Zach Fischer and Taylor Ross.
“He’s been rock solid for us back there,” said Dmytriw. “Coming in as a 17-year-old goalie, he’s been nothing but great for us and he gives the boys a lot of confidence.”
The positive result snapped a two-game home-ice losing streak for the Rebels, who improved to 7-6-0-0.
“Whenever you’re in a situation like we’ve been in, there’s nothing that’s going to come easy, you have to really dig in,” said Sutter. “The kids dug in and we got two points and a big win.”
The game marked the Red Deer debut of overage centre Jack Flaman, who was acquired Thursday from the Lethbridge Hurricanes in exchange for his WHL overage transfer fee, and the return of Alexeyev, who suffered an upper body injury in the third game of the season, Sept. 29 at Brandon.
“I thought he was great,” Sutter said of Flaman. “We know what he is, we knew what we were getting.
“It’s nice to have a left-handed centre iceman, especially a guy who’s responsible and a guy who’s good on faceoffs, especially on that side of the ice. We haven’t had that. We’re very fortunate to get him and he fits in with our group. We have to play a certain way, we have to be a four-line team and we have to have everyone being responsible and he’s a responsible player.”
Alexeyev, the club’s best blueliner, played big minutes upon his return from a nine-game layoff.
“When you have a guy like that who’s a horse on the back end, plays a lot of minutes and knows how to play the game . . . he’s obviously significant to our group,” said Sutter.
The Rebels host the Regina Pats Saturday.
Just notes: To make room for Flaman, the Rebels reassigned forward Chase Lowry to the Olds Grizzlys of the AJHL. Sutter also waived 20-year-old netminder Lasse Petersen Thursday and called up Byron Fancy from the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes to back up Anders. . . Anders finished with 25 saves while picking up his third win of the season. Weatherill was also solid in the Chiefs net, blocking 29 shots . . . Selected as the three stars were (1) Zablocki, (2) Elynuik and (3) Dmytriw.