Rebels Special Teams Superb in Narrow Win over Tigers
Yogi Berra had some of the most colourful quotes in the history of major league baseball.
One of his most memorable: "It ain't over til it's over."
The Red Deer Rebels were reminded of that Friday night at the Centrium, hanging on for a 6-4 WHL win over the Medicine Hat Tigers after taking a 5-0 lead into the third period.
"For 40 minutes it was right. We got a couple short-handed goals and the power play was good," said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter.
Then came the third period and the Tigers came out and carried the play nearly the entire frame.
Bryan Lockner took a puck off the end boards and tipped it by Rebels netminder Byron Fancy at 7:26 and the visitors made it a game with three late goals in just under three minutes.
Corson Hopwo scored off a turnover in the Rebels zone at 15:06, Brett Kemp, on the power play, beat Fancy high to the blocker side from the right circle 20 seconds later, and James Hamblin connected from a goalmouth scramble at 17:50.
The Rebels, though, sealed the deal when Josh Tarzwell lifted the puck over a Tigers defenceman and Brett Davis skated in alone from the Medicine Hat blueline and notched an empty-net marker with 23 seconds left.
"You have a 5-0 lead going into the third . . . we talked about staying on the edge and keeping our intensity level up and staying on our toes jumping," said Sutter.
"The first two shifts of the third weren't great where we had turnovers and got off our game plan and the whole period seemed that way.
"We made a couple bad decisions on rushes where we got beat one on one. We allowed them to get back in the game and good teams are going to do that, they're going to push, they're going to play right to the end especially when they're down like that. You give them one, you give them two and now they have life."
On the plus side, of course, the Rebels managed to pull out the victory thanks to Fancy's 39-save effort and the performance of the club's special teams.
"It's two points. It's a win against a very good team and I hope it's another lesson for our group," said Sutter.
On another night, the Rebels would be playing with fire by taking five penalties in the first two periods against the team with the league's best power play.
But on this night, they had effective extinguishers in Fancy and their penalty killers.
And Red Deer was also two-for-two on the power play, the first man-advantage goal coming off the stick of Cam Hausinger 13:04 into the contest.
The goal was a beauty, as Ethan Sakowich threw the puck across to Davis on the other point and the Rebels veteran forward found Hausinger at the edge of the crease. Hausinger calmly beat Tigers netminder Evan Fradette with a high shot, his seventh goal of the season.
Red Deer's penalty kill went to work in the second period, not only erasing a pair of back-to-back penalties but also getting two short-handed goals from Arshdeep Bains.
Bains worked his way around Hamblin deep in the Tigers zone and whipped a backhand past Fradette at 4:17, then took a behind-the-net pass from Ben King and chipped the puck over the Medicine Hat stopper just over three minutes later.
"I think we're just a high pressure penalty kill so there's lot of opportunities if we can create turnovers. Tonight it was fun," said Bains, whose goals were his ninth and 10th of the season.
The Rebels weren't done there, as Tarzwell went hard to the net and converted a backhand pass from Jayden Grubbe, and Grubbe, from in tight, buried a nifty feed from Hausinger to round out the second-period onslaught.
"It was fun, we had a lot of great opportunities," said Bains. "We played a good 40 but let them back in the game in the last 20.
"They (Tigers) are really skilled and they work hard. We knew we had to come out strong and we did, but we still had to play the full 60."
Fancy stopped all 18 shots he faced in the opening period and blocked all nine he saw in the second en route to posting his sixth win of the season.
"Byron was fine, he was good," said Sutter. "He looked very calm in the net, he looked big. He did what he had to do for us, for sure."
Notable: Fradette finished with 19 saves . . . Selected as the three stars were (1) Bains, (2) Hamblin and (3) Tarzwell . . . Joining Bains with multi-point performances were Hausinger and Tarzwell, each with a goal and two assists, Grubbe (1-1) and Davis (1-1) . . . The Rebels close out the pre-Christmas portion of their schedule Saturday against the visiting Swift Current Broncos in the team's annual Toque Toss game. Fans are asked to bring - in plastic bags - toques, mitts, scarves, socks and stuffed toys to toss on the ice following the Rebels' first goal. The goods will be donated to the Red Deer Christmas Bureau. Ticket prices for the game have been reduced to $18 for adults and $10 for youth and parking is free.
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