Bains Leads the Way with Four Points as Rebels Down Blades
Arshdeep Bains has been a highlight reel regular during the current Western Hockey League season.
The Rebels star winger continued with his unique form of entertainment Friday night at the Peavey Mart Centrium, sniping a pair of picturesque goals and adding two assists in Red Deer's well-deserved 5-3 win over the Saskatoon Blades.
"I'd like to call it a little bit of luck," shrugged the soft-spoken veteran, whose output boosted his points total to 69 - including a league-best 44 assists - leaving him one point back of league front-runner Kyle Crnkovic of the Blades.
"I'm grateful that things are going this way but it wouldn't be done without the team."
Bains snapped a 3-3 tie with his 25th goal of the season at 9:12 of the third period, breaking away with linemate Ben King on a two-on-one, then cutting to the middle and beating netminder Nolan Maier high to the glove side.
Jace Isley sealed the deal with an empty-net marker in the final minute as the Rebels posted their 30th win of the season and moved two points in front of the fourth-place Moose Jaw Warriors in the Eastern Conference and nine points ahead of the Blades, who sit fifth.
Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk praised Bains for not only his skilled plays but his drive and determination.
"He worked hard tonight," said the Red Deer bench boss. "His goals came, but he was engaged, he was physical, he got on the body and he was working and skating.
"He was determined right from the start of the game to get the ball rolling in the right direction. Then he led the way."
Bains, meanwhile, credited Konowalchuk for helping him become a complete player.
"Steve holds me accountable. He makes sure that I have the full 200-foot game which helps create offence," said the 21-year-old, who's in his fifth season with the Rebels. "He's helped me a lot this year."
Bains opened the scoring Friday with a dandy goal, taking a pass for King at centre ice, maneuvering past two defencemen and backhanding a shot past Maier 8:34 into the contest.
Brandon Lisowsky pulled the visitors even shortly after, beating goaltender Connor Ungar with a low shot from the inner edge of the right circle, and the teams were deadlocked at one after the opening period.
Kalan Lind, on a perfect power play deflection of Christoffer Sedoff's offering from the point, restored the home side's lead at 6:40 of the second period, and King struck for his league-leading 35th goal of the season - and WHL best 17th power-play tally - just over a minute later. Bains rang a shot off the post and King jumped on the rebound and ripped a shot over Maier's shoulder.
The Blades, though, wouldn't go away. Egor Sidorov converted a corner pass from Trevor Wong just 30 seconds later, and Lisowsky notched his second of the night during the latter half of a double high sticking minor penalty to Liam Keeler later in the period.
But the Rebels outshot their guests 10-6 in the third frame and nailed down the victory with a pair of unanswered goals.
"I thought our team stuck with it throughout the game," said Bains. "Even though they came back and forced some adversity, we stuck with it to the end and got rewarded for that."
Konowalchuk liked the way his team was able to win the possession game.
"The guys were focused right off the start," he said. "Managing the puck is so important and our guys were willing to do that against a good, skilled hockey team that you don't want to have the puck much.
"I thought our guys for the most part were smart and determined with the puck and that went a long way. It was a good, hard fought 60 minutes, which again you're going to have to win these games over the second half of the season."
The Rebels will face another stiff test Saturday when the Winnipeg Ice visit the Centrium. The Ice possess an impressive 32-6-2-1 record and sit second in the Eastern Conference, four points back of the Edmonton Oil Kings but with seven games in hand.
"It's a huge game tomorrow," said Bains. "I think we'll be excited and ready to go."
Notable: Ungar made 14 saves while posting his 16th win of the season, while Maier turned aside 24 shots . . . The Rebels were two-for-four on the power play, the Blades one-for-three . . . Attendance was 2,951 . . . The three stars: (1) Bains, (2) Lisowsky and (3) Rebels rookie forward Talon Brigley . . . Prior to the game, Hunter Mayo and Jhett Larson were dual recipients of the Rebels Rob Rae Clothiers plus-minus award for the month of January.
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