Lamb brilliant, but Rebels fall 4-3 to Pats in overtime

Photo by Greg Meachem

Pats 4 Rebels 3 (OT)
Riley Lamb deserved a better fate.
The Red Deer Rebels rookie WHL netminder turned in a splendid 47-save performance Saturday, but even his outstanding play couldn’t prevent the Regina Pats from skating off with a 4-3 overtime victory.
“It could have been better, obviously. We could have got the two points, but we got a point out of it,” said the 18-year-old stopper, who was named first star of the ultra-entertaining contest witnessed by an enthusiastic throng of 6,207 at the Centrium.
“I felt all right, stopped a couple pucks I guess,” he continued, with a chuckle. “The defence was really good. They let me see everything. It was pretty straight forward.”
Lamb was being modest, although he did admit that his outing was good for his confidence.
“My confidence has been really down lately,” he said. “I hadn’t been playing a lot, got hurt for a bit. It was good to get a game like that under my belt and hopefully I can keep going.”
Lamb made several top-notch saves in the opening period, allowing the Rebels to go to the first intermission with a 1-0 lead on Austin Pratt’s 12th goal of the season. Pratt broke down the left side on a two-on-one and from his off wing, picked the far corner of the net behind Pats goaltender Tyler Brown.
The Rebels killed a four-minute Pats power play in the second period, but continued to play with fire when Evan Polei was assessed a somewhat questionable slashing penalty in the final minute of the frame.
Defenceman Connor Hobbs finally pulled the Pats even 16 seconds later with a slap shot from the high slot.
That set the stage for a thrilling third period in which the Pats snapped the 1-1 draw in the first minute on Adam Brooks’ 31st of the season, but also saw the Rebels roar back with consecutive power-play markers when Dawson Leedahl was nailed with a double minor early in the stanza.
Michael Spacek made it 2-2 with a wrist shot from the high slot and Colton Bobyk pushed the Rebels in front when he wired a point shot past Brown on the second half of the power play.
“The third period was wild, no question,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “We get a four-minute power play and score two goals and get a lead, and the very next shift they come back and score.”
Sutter was referencing a tying goal by Austin Wagner, who slipped in behind the Rebels defence and cashed a feed from Brooks at 7:08, just 17 seconds after Bobyk’s marker.
Neither team could connect over the next 12 minutes and change, thanks to some scintillating stops by Lamb, but former Rebels defenceman Josh Mahura grabbed a pass from Wagner, broke wide to the net and slipped the puck through Lamb’s pads at 3:04 of overtime.
“That’s obviously a very good hockey team you’re playing, a very skilled team” said Sutter of the Pats, the No. 1 ranked team in the entire Canadian Hockey League. “But at the same time we did some very good things.
“You look at the two goals we gave them. The second and third goals were just turnovers, not being smart with the puck, not playing the right way with the puck.
“But you can’t question our effort, our effort was outstanding tonight. We played hard and that’s all you can ask from the group — to play hard and stick together and we’ll get ourselves out of this (a four-game losing streak).”
Sutter was impressed with Lamb’s performance while also happy for the native of Rivers, Man., who was sharp early in the season before going through a rough stretch that saw him relinquish most of the net time to Lasse Petersen.
“He was outstanding,” said the Rebels boss. “You look at the saves he made (including a breakaway stop on Wagner). He played a heck of a game and that’s what you need from your goaltending.
“Hopefully he’s growing and maturing as a player. He’s had some ups and downs this season being a first-year player in the league, but he’s responded well.
“The last probably two to three weeks, just his mental mindset, his attitude towards what it takes to be a goaltender, has been significantly better. It’s an encouraging sign because it’s nice to know you have two goalies who can play.”
The Rebels’ penalty killers allowed one goal on seven Regina power plays. Red Deer was two-for-five with a man advantage.
“Our PK was really good,” said Sutter. “I thought we were assertive on it, our details to it were really good and we had some good sticks.
“We obviously blocked a lot of shots on our PK too.”
The Rebels left early Sunday on a five-game jaunt that starts Tuesday in Seattle.
“We’ll take the point here tonight and now we have a tough road trip coming up and we have to get ready for that,” said Sutter.
Just notes: Brooks and Mahura were named the second and third stars of the contest . . . Brown finished with 23 saves — including two in overtime — while posting his 25th win of the season . . . Following Tuesday’s stop in Seattle, the Rebels will visit the Tri-City Americans, Portland Winterhawks, Vancouver Giants and Prince George Cougars over the following seven days . . . Red Deer’s next home game is Feb. 24 versus the Kootenay Ice.

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