Tigers score three in third period, beat Rebels in overtime
Tigers 5 Rebels 4 (OT)
MEDICINE HAT — The Red Deer Rebels’ killer instinct was non-existent Saturday evening at Co-op Place.
Up 4-1 after 40 minutes, the Rebels surrendered three third-period goals and eventually dropped a 5-4 WHL overtime decision to the Medicine Hat Tigers in front of 3,739 mostly delighted fans.
“We played 30 minutes. We get into the third period trying to protect and that’s not what we wanted to do,” said Rebels head coach Derrick Walser.
“We didn’t take care of pucks. You have to play 60 minutes. It was a 30-minute effort.”
Defenceman Bogdans Hodass completed the Tigers’ comeback with 20 seconds left in overtime when he took a drop pass from Hunter St. Martin and beat netminder Chase Wutzke with a high shot from 30 feet out.
The Rebels killed a full two-minute Tigers’ power play to start the third period, but were on their heels the rest of the way.
Hayden Harsanyi jammed the puck home from the side of the net at the 4:05 mark after some poor clearing by the visitors. Gavin McKenna completed a give-and-go with Oasiz Wiesblatt just under five minutes later to cut Red Deer’s lead to a single goal.
The Tigers kept coming and pulled even with 1:57 remaining in regulation time when Andrew Basha scored off a broken faceoff play in the Red Deer end.
The Rebels, playing their seventh game in 11 days, looked gassed in the third period while being outshot 15-3.
Walser, however, wasn’t using fatigue as an alibi.
“Everyone else is on the same page, playing the same number of games,” he said. “It’s not like it’s a heavy load. Everyone else is playing five in eight and all that stuff, so that’s just an excuse.”
Jhett Larson opened the scoring for Red Deer 8:42 into the contest, connecting directly off a faceoff with a rising shot after Kai Uchacz drew the puck back to him.
Tomas Mrsic pulled the home side even with a power play tally three minutes later on a one-timer from the right circle following a rink-wide feed from Wiesblatt.
The visitors, however, regained their lead with a man advantage tally of their own in the final minute of the period as Uchacz circled in the high slot and fed Kalan Lind at the side of the crease for a back door goal.
The Rebels upped the count to 3-1 early in the second frame when Frantisek Formanek gobbled up a turnover in the Tigers end, broke to the net and back-handed the puck through the wickets of goaltender Zach Zahara.
Then, just 76 seconds later, Carson Birnie redirected a point shot by Hunter Mayo past Zahara with Red Deer on the power play.
But that was it for the visitors, who couldn’t stop the snowball effect once the Tigers got rolling.
With a regulation win, the Rebels would have pulled within one point of the Tigers for the Central Division lead. Instead they fell four points back of their provincial rivals.
“We were fine for 30 (minutes) then stopped taking care of pucks,” said Walser. “We were good on the forecheck and got away from it.
“You have to get the puck deep, you have to get the puck out of your zone.”
Notable: Wutzke turned in a strong performance with 39 saves while Zahara wasn’t nearly as busy, turning aside 18 shots . . . The Rebels were two-for-two on the power play, the Tigers one-for-five . . . The three stars: (1) Hodass, (2) McKenna and (3) Wiesblatt . . . The Rebels host the Calgary Hitmen Tuesday, then engage the Edmonton Oil Kings in a home-and-home series next weekend — Friday at the Peavey Mart Centrium and Saturday in the provincial capital.