Toth Comes Up Big For Rebels
Rebels 6 Wheat Kings 2
A goaltender has to be a difference-maker with his team’s season hanging in the balance.
Rylan Toth was just that Tuesday night at the Centrium, taking at least three goals away from the Brandon Wheat Kings while back-stopping the Red Deer Rebels to a 6-2 WHL playoff victory.
The Rebels, who led 4-0 after the opening period, reduced their deficit in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final to 2-1 in front of 5,317 fans. Game 4 goes tonight at the Centrium.
The Rebels struck 1:51 into the contest when Austin Strand wired a rising shot from the top of the circle with Brandon Hagel providing a screen in front of netminder Jordan Papirny.
“We obviously had a good start to the game with the early goal,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, who credited Toth and his penalty killers for helping his club escape the first period unscathed.
“I kind of thought the key in that first period was killing off that penalty,” said the Rebels boss, in reference to an early tripping call on Evan Polei. “Then we came down and scored a couple more goals.”
After Toth robbed Tanner Kaspick with a terrific pad save, Rebels defenceman Haydn Fleury moved in from the point and snuck a shot past Papirny at 12:44.
Just seven seconds later, Braden Purtill brought the fans back out of their seats when he took a feed from Taden Rattie and beat Papirny to the short side.
Toth came to the rescue once again shortly after, getting his toe on Tyler Coulter’s quick release from the low slot, and the Rebels countered when Evan Polei went hard to the net and converted an Adam Musil corner feed.
“He made two great saves, toe saves that allowed up to keep the lead,” Sutter said of his netminder. “Again, you need goaltending. We’re playing a very good hockey team here and our goaltending has to be good.”
It was all in a night’s work, said Toth, who finished with 25 saves.
“It was 4-0 after the first but they did have a few chances. I wanted to make sure I was there for the guys and shut the door,” he said. “The last couple of games in Brandon (4-3 and 6-4 losses losses in Games 1 and 2) I let in four and five goals, which isn’t exactly ideal. I wanted to keep it low tonight and hopefully the boys would score a few and they did.”
Logan Thompson replaced Papirny after the Rebels’ fourth marker and gave up a bad goal to Jeff de Wit just past the midway point of the second period. The Red Deer forward grabbed a nifty pass from defenceman Nelson Nogier and, from a sharp angle, found an open spot on Thompson’s blocker side.
The visitors finally got on the board when Kale Clague’s point shot deflected off a Red Deer player and past Toth just over a minute later.
The Rebels were outshot 11-7 in the middle frame but turned that stat around in the third period, directing 16 shots at Thompson while Toth faced only five.
The Wheat Kings made one of their shots count as John Quenneville potted an early power-play goal and the Rebels closed out the scoring with a man-advantage tally from Michael Spacek at 11:37.
“Our second and third periods weren’t great. We played to preserve the win, I guess,” said Sutter.
“We’re still down 2-1 in this series, yet we needed to win this first one. Now this one’s over and we have to start getting prepared for Game 4.”
Toth admitted that even with his club up 5-1 after 40 minutes, the game felt closer than the score.
“They (Wheat Kings) didn’t go away, for sure, and we knew they wouldn’t,” he said. “We wanted to go into the third period as if it was a 0-0 game and play just a normal period . . . don’t play like we’re up and don’t play not to lose. We wanted to keep on our toes and keep going.
“Brandon didn’t give up though, they played hard throughout the game. But I was pretty happy with how we played. We were sharp the whole night.”
Toth added that the Rebels entered the contest realizing they were facing a must-win situation.
“It’s not too often a team comes back from 3-0, but it was a huge win and we definitely needed it,” he said. “The crowd was good and helped us a lot. It’s nice being home and hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.
“Brent talked about treating it as a Game 7 and I think we did a good job of approaching it that way. Now we have to tie it up before we head back to Brandon (for a fifth game Friday).”
- Ivan Nikolishin made his return to the Rebels lineup following a lengthy layoff due to a leg injury and drew an assist on Purtill’s goal . . . Papirny faced nine shots before being replaced by Thompson, who stopped 23 of the 25 he faced the rest of the way.