Rebels score in dying seconds to secure win over Wheat Kings
Rebels 2 Wheat Kings 0
Better late than never.
The Red Deer Rebels waited until the final minute but got the job done Friday night at the Peavey Mart Centrium.
With the scoreless game on the verge of going to overtime, Ollie Josephson notched his third goal of the season with 19.4 seconds remaining and captain Kai Uchacz added an empty-netter goal eight seconds later to give the Rebels a 2-0 WHL win over the Brandon Wheat Kings.
“I guess it took us a whole 59 minutes and a half,” said Uchacz, who assisted on the winner when Brandon netminder Ethan Eskit stopped his drive from the high slot and Josephson knocked in the rebound.
“We stuck with it and our goaltender kept us in it. We had a bit of a slow start but stuck with it and found a way late.”
Josephson turned in yet another strong performance and was rewarded with the late marker.
“He’s been snake-bitten a lot,” said Rebels head coach Derrick Walser. “He’s one of those guys you don’t worry about. He works hard every day and gives you everything he’s got every night.
“I’m so happy that he was able to get it done for us tonight.”
The Rebels didn’t find their game until late in the first period, failing to register a single shot on goal until close to the midway point of the frame.
Outshot 9-6 through the first 20 minutes, the home side held a 25-16 advantage the rest of the way.
“I didn’t like our first period. I thought we came out very flat and I had to go in and wake them up (during the intermission),” said Walser, whose club will get right back at it Saturday against the visiting Regina Pats (7 p.m at the Peavey Mart Centrium).
“It’s all the work we’ve been doing the last couple of weeks. We could have found a way to lose that game today, but we kept it together. We kept our composure and it started to turn a bit. Now the game is over and we have to prepare for tomorrow.”
The Rebels were well deserving of the two points considering they carried the play though much of the final frame and might have won it earlier but Eskit made a great save on Uchacz from in tight.
“I kind of felt like we gained momentum as the game went on, but especially in the third when we had some high quality chances that we missed on,” said Uchacz.
“We had the momentum going there and we kept pushing all the way to the end
Eskit finished with 30 saves and was selected as the game’s first star.
Rebels netminder Rhett Stoesser, meanwhile, earned second star status for his 25-save shutout, his third of the season. The reigning WHL goaltender of the week came up big on several occasions and simply refused to allow a single shot to slip past him.
“Stoesser kept us in it,” said Walser. “He’s seeing the puck right now. It’s great to see and the guys are battling for him.”
Notable: Uchacz was selected as the game’s third star. The 20-year-old, who sniped 50 goals last season, extended his points streak to 10 games. He has nine goals and six assists during the stretch . . . Rebels top six forward Kalan Lind missed his eighth consecutive game with an upper body injury suffered during an Oct. 28 game in Calgary. He’s listed as day-to-day and might return to the lineup versus Regina . . . Meanwhile, forward Talon Brigley was injured in the second period and didn’t return, and defenceman Hunter Mayo left in the first period and didn’t play another shift . . . Attendance was 3,645 . . . The Rebels improved to 9-9-0-3 and moved one point ahead of the idle Calgary Hitmen for ninth place in the Eastern Conference. Red Deer is four points back of seventh place Brandon with four games in hand. The Pats sit in eighth spot, one point ahead of the Rebels, but have played three more games. Regina fell 4-2 to the host Edmonton Oil Kings Friday.
(Photos by Taylor Lachance)