Rebels 5 Ice 4
CRANBROOK — On a night that seemed perfect for Mason McCarty, the Red Deer Rebels and Kootenay Ice took turns making it an imperfect game.
The end result was all that mattered, though, with the Rebels getting a hat-trick performance from McCarty and pulling out a 5-4 Western Hockey League victory Thursday in front of 2,238 fans at Western Financial Place.
“It was kind of a funny game. At times it was good and at times it was sloppy,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “Both teams made a lot of mistakes tonight.”
The Rebels roared out to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes before the Ice struck for two goals a mere 59 seconds apart early in the middle frame.
Reese Johnson opened the scoring 3:28 into the contest, slipping the puck past Kootenay netminder Kurtis Chapman while stationed just outside the crease.
McCarty notched his first of the night — and sixth of the season — just past the midway point of the period, taking a centering pass from Lane Zablocki and scoring to Chapman’s glove side with Red Deer on a power play.
Just under three minutes later, the 20-year-old forward connected again, finishing off an end-to-end solo effort seconds after Rebels goaltender Lasse Petersen had robbed Keenan Taphorn.
The hosts roared out of the gate to open the middle frame and pulled to within one in short order. Vince Loschiavo beat Petersen to the stick side with a rising shot and Colton Veloso followed with his first goal of the season.
“In the first period we were good and our opposition wasn’t great,” said Sutter. “In the second they came at us pretty hard, but from the 10-minute mark on we got our pace going again.
“Overall, the pace picked up in the last two periods.”
The Rebels clung to their narrow lead until 6:35 of the third frame, when Kristian Reichel wired a power-play wrist shot through a crowd to give the visitors a two-goal cushion.
But as the period neared the half-way mark, Alec Baer pounced on a giveaway just outside the Red Deer blueline, cut to the middle and beat Petersen with a low shot to the short side.
“The power play goal ( by Reichel) was a big goal, but then we made a mistake to get them back in it,” said Sutter. “We committed a neutral zone turnover and let them back in the game.”
McCarty potted the eventual winner with 2:09 remaining, carrying the puck out of the corner and firing a shot through Chapman’s pads.
“Carts stepped up and scored some big goals for us,” said Sutter.
McCarty’s hat trick marker, as it turned out, was huge, considering Kootenay scored with 6.4 seconds remaining. Colton Kroeker was credited with the goal after the puck glanced off a Red Deer skate and past Petersen.
Petersen finished with 27 saves, including several of the difficult variety, while Chapman turned aside 24 shots.
“It was a game (in which) both teams put on pressure, but there was also a lot of mistakes,” said Sutter. “The effort was there, we just didn’t play very smart. But we found a way to get two points.”
Just notes: McCarty also picked up an assist to finish the evening with four points. Two other Rebels enjoyed a multi-point game, with Brandon Hagel recording three assists and captain Grayson Pawlenchuk chipping in with a pair of helpers . . . The Rebels host the Saskatoon Blades Saturday. Action gets underway at 7 p.m. at the Centrium.
Rebels 5 Ice 4