Rebels come up short in extra time
Hurricanes 5 Rebels 4 (SO)
LETHBRIDGE — The Red Deer Rebels’ WHL playoff hopes are fading fast, thanks in part to the team’s inabilty to pull out extra points in games that extend beyond 60 minutes.
In yet another turn of misfortune that’s had gone beyond shocking status, the Rebels came up short in their 10th straight extra-time contest Tuesday, dropping a 5-4 shootout decision to the Lethbridge Hurricanes before 2,696 fans at the Enmax Centre.
“Look at all the overtime games we’ve lost. Like I was telling the kids after the game, if we had gone .500 in those games that’s five points and we’re right there (in the post-season hunt),” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “That’s what’s hurt us more than anything.”
The Rebels trailed 3-1 in the second period before mounting a comeback that netted three goals in a short period.
Reese Johnson connected at 7:16 of the second frame when he cashed a centering pass from Alex Alexeyev during a Red Deer power play, then Alexeyev set up Johnson on yet another man-advantage marker just under two minutes later.
Less than two minutes had passed when Mason McCarty scored from a goalmouth scramble to provide the visitors with their lone lead of the evening.
Dylan Cozens got that one back for the ‘Canes late in the period, setting up a scoreless third stanza and overtime period.
“I thought the second and third periods were good periods for us,” said Sutter. “In the first period we weren’t moving our feet.
“But again, when the game gets into a three-on-three (overtime period) you have to bear down on your chances. We had plenty of opportunities to win the game in the shootout but we never got it done.”
Newly-acquired overage forward Brad Morrison scored a pair of first-period goals — including one on the power play — for the ‘Canes, sandwiched by a marker from Red Deer’s Alexeyev, who beat netminder Logan Flodell with a sharp-angle shot from the left circle.
Brendan Stafford gave the hosts a 3-1 lead with a goal 3:17 into the second period, before the Rebels came back with three straight markers.
Ethan Anders guarded the Rebels net through 40 minutes, giving up four goals on 27 shots before being replaced by Riley Lamb, who blocked all 14 shots he faced through the third and overtime periods.
Sutter said the goaltender switch was by design.
“I had a mindset tonight that I was going to go with Andy in the first two periods and play Lamber in the third,” said the Rebels boss. “I just thought that if it was a tight game in the third that we’d go with experience.”
With the multitude of transactions made in recent weeks, Sutter is looking forward to a pair of practice sessions Wednesday and Thursday in preparation for Friday and Saturday home games versus Lethbriddge and the Saskatoon Blades.
“Tonight’s game was our eighth in 14 days, we haven’t had much practice times since the Christmas break,” he said. “It’s been a battle for us with our details.
“We have a couple days now and then two games and then all next week it’s imperative that we work on those things. That’s the biggest thing with younger guys, and even some of the older guys . . . details are big part of the game and the foundation of winning and losing.”