Rebels win in overtime for second night in succession
Rebels 4 Pats 3 (OT)
The Red Deer Rebels are developing a flair for the dramatic.
The Rebels recorded their second WHL overtime win in as many nights Saturday, downing the Regina Pats 4-3 on Lane Zablocki’s sixth goal of the season before 4,051 delighted fans at the Centrium.
The goal was extra satisfying for Zablocki, who was acquired from the Pats in a multi-player transaction last January.
“Absolutely, when you play against your old team it’s always a game that’s pretty easy to get up for,” said the Detroit Red Wings prospect. “It was a hard-fought game and a big character win for our team. That’s huge and we have to take that into tomorrow’s game (Sunday at the Kootenay Ice).”
The Wetaskiwin native potted his decisive marker at 1:42 of the three-on-three extra-time session, bolting down the right side, beating a Regina defender wide, cutting to the net and firing a high shot past goaltender Tyler Brown.
“I was just skating down the wall and basically just took it to the net,” he said.
Despite the end result, Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter was not impressed, considering his club was outplayed and outshot 27-13 in the first two periods before posting a 6-4 edge in shots in the third.
“We got rewarded for playing 22 minutes in regulation time and whatever we did in overtime,” he said. “If that’s acceptable, then I guess it’s acceptable.”
The only positive for Red Deer through the better part of two periods, Sutter suggested, was the play of goaltender Ethan Anders, selected as the game’s first star for his 28-save performance.
“Our goalie was terrific again. He played great,” said the Rebels boss.
Anders had to be sharp in an opening period in which his club was outshot 16-7 but actually led 2-0 on Hunter Donohoe’s first-ever WHL goal and a short-handed tally from newcomer Jack Flaman.
Donohoe, a defenceman, played up front as a replacement for Brandon Hagel — out with an illness — and cashed his own rebound 3:23 into the contest. Flaman doubled the Rebels’ lead at 16:53, racing down the left wing and wiring a shot to the far corner, on Brown’s glove side.
Dawson Davidson got the visitors on the board 38 seconds later, his wrister from the left faceoff circle catching the corner, and former Rebel Josh Mahura pulled the Pats even with a power-play goal 5:03 into the second period. Mahura moved in from the point and directed a wrist shot through a crowd and past Anders.
Robbie Holmes was credited with a go-ahead goal for the Pats late in the frame, again from long range past a screened Anders, and Regina took a 3-2 lead into the third period.
The third, however, was decidedly different in terms of territorial play. The Rebels were strong out of the gate and were rewarded with a man-advantage goal of their own at 2:52 when Grayson Pawlenchuk cut across the low slot and deflected Alex Alexeyev’s pin-point feed past Brown.
The Rebels were the better team in the final 20 minutes of regulation time and through the brief add-on stanza, and Zablocki admitted the players’ persistence should have been there from the start.
“We need to come a little better prepared to the rink and get going in those first two periods,” he said. “It was the same as last night (in a 4-3 come-from-behind overtime win over the visiting Spokane Chiefs), I thought we got better as the game went on.”
If nothing else, the Rebels showed in the third period how they are capable of performing when the chips are down.
Again, Sutter was unimpressed, pointing out the numerous turnovers — nearly 20 by his count — commited by his team and the presentation of six power-play opportunities to the Pats.
“That’s the problem we deal with from a coach’s perspective — the inconsistency in our work ethic and our team play,” he said. “We won 4-3 and that’s all great. But I’m not happy with the fact the first 38 minutes of the game we weren’t very good.
“We weren’t hard enough and our work ethic wasn’t where it needed to be. I just want a team that plays harder, a team that competes for 60 minutes and battles and won’t be pushed around. For 38 minutes tonight we got pushed around pretty good.
“It was addressed and we go out and play a much better third period and a good overtime. We played the right way and pushed. We limited their scoring chances and created some of our own, in overtime we had a lot of puck possession.
“That’s how you want to play and yet we’re still trying to figure out that the game starts and hour and a half earlier. I guess we still have a lot to learn and a long way to go here.”
Just notes: Selected as the second and third stars were Mahura and Zablocki . . . Brown finished with 16 saves . . . Regina was one-for-six on the power play, the Rebels one-for-two . . . Following Sunday’s 4 p.m. game against the Ice in Cranbrook, the Rebels will host the Seattle Thunderbirds Wednesday and will then play their next seven games on the road.