Rebels withstand late rally to defeat Wheat Kings
Rebels 5 Wheat Kings 3
BRANDON — The Red Deer Rebels were the better team for almost the entirety of Friday’s WHL game against the Brandon Wheat Kings.
The hosts made matters interesting with a late two-goal push, but the Rebels’ overall superiority resulted in a 5-3 win before 2,577 fans at Westoba Place.
“It was a pretty solid 60 minutes, expect for maybe two or three minutes at the end, if I want to nitpick,” said Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk. “They made a play off the faceoff that gave them some life.”
Trailing 4-1, the Wheat Kings cut the deficit to two when Marcus Kallionkieli converted a corner pass from Nolan Ritchie at 13:55 of the third period. Ryley Roersma notched his second of the evening four minutes later to make it 4-3, but Jayden Grubbe sealed the deal with an empty-net goal in the final minute.
“It was a pretty solid 60 from everybody, from being strong on pucks to blocking shots with our backchecking,” said Konowalchuk. “The details in our D zone for the most part were good. Everybody in the lineup pitched in.”
The Rebels outshot their hosts 15-7 in the opening period — and 45-17 overall — but went into the first intermission trailing 1-0 as Wheat Kings netminder Ethan Kruger came up with some big stops. Roersma provided the Brandon goal on the power play, beating Red Deer netminder Connor Ungar from the edge of the crease.
“I thought we could have had maybe a couple goals early but their goaltender made some key saves that made us stick with it. Our guys did, they stuck with it and eventually got the goals,” said Konowalchuk.
Jhett Larson, from the doorstep, pulled the Rebels even early in the second period after Ben King directed a shot on net from the high slot.
Just under seven minutes later Arshdeep Bains gave Red Deer a lead they would not relinquish, tipping home Larson’s shot from the top of the circle.
From there, Kai Uchzacz notched a Red Deer power play marker 18 seconds into the third period, and Carter Anderson upped the count to 4-1 with a quick snapshot from the bottom of the circle.
“They did work hard, it didn’t come easy,” Konowalchuk said of his troops. “Our guys stuck to the plan and were willing the do the right things with and without the puck.”
Unger finished with 14 saves, while Kruger stopped all 17 shots he faced before being replaced by Carson Bjarnason in the second period due to injury. Bjarnason made 23 saves in relief.
The Rebels are back in action Sunday when they face the Winnipeg Ice for the second time in four days.
Red Deer will close out a six-game road trip with stops Tuesday in Moose Jaw, Wednesday in Regina and Friday in Prince Albert.
The Rebels’ next home game is Nov. 19 versus the Calgary Hitmen.
Notable: The game marked the return of Rebels defenceman Jace Weir, who missed the previous four games due to a suspension. Meanwhile, Red Deer was minus the services of injured F Josh Medernach (lower body, indefinite), F Ethan Rowland (upper body, indefinite) and F Kalan Lind, who is facing a suspension for a kneeing major he was assessed the previous night in Winnipeg. D Joel Sexsmith also missed Friday’s contest and is listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury . . . The Wheat Kings were without six players — D Vincent Iorio (upper body, day-to-day), F Ben Thornton (upper body, week-to-week), F Jake Chiasson (upper body, month-to-month), F Nate Danielson (upper body, day-to-day), F Jaxon Dube (upper body, day-to-day) and F Ridley Greig (upper body, day-to-day) . . . The three stars: (1) Larson, (2) Uchacz and (3) Roersma.