Rebels 2 Silvertips 1 (OT)
EVERETT, Wash. — The list of teams that have defeated both Western Hockey League conference leaders this season is not a long one.
The Red Deer Rebels, though, are on that list following a 2-1 shootout victory over the Western Conference leading Everett Silvertips Thursday. Red Deer has also defeated the Prince Albert Raiders, the Eastern Conference runaway leaders.
Thursday’s triumph snapped a six-game losing streak for the Rebels, who received glowing praise from general manager/head coach Brent Sutter.
The Rebels boss considered the victory as merely a payoff for how well the team has played the last three games, including a 2-1 home-ice loss to Moose Jaw despite holding a 48-21 advantage in shots and a 4-3 overtime defeat Tuesday at Spokane.
“It’s really a carry-over from how we played in Spokane and how we played against Moose Jaw,” said Sutter.
“We’re playing hard, we’re competing harder. We’re playing with a lot more emotion and you need that to give yourself a chance to compete and play hard.”
The victory was extra impressive considering the Rebels, after leaving Spokane, didn’t get into Everett until 9:45 p.m. Wednesday due to road conditions and a semi-trailer accident that stranded them in Hood River, Ore., for a lengthy amount of time.
As a result, the regularly scheduled Wednesday game between the Rebels and Silvertips was moved ahead 24 hours.
“It was a really good effort by the kids when you think about our travel and how it’s been,” said Sutter. “We spent 24 hours on the bus. I was proud of how they responded, how they reacted. They were ready to play and were focused and dialled in.”
The teams battled through a 0-0 first period before Silvertips forward Robbie Holmes opened the scoring 1:40 into the second frame, burying his own rebound by beating Rebels netminder Ethan Anders high to the short side.
Brandon Hagel pulled the Rebels even and eventually forced overtime when he scored on a third-period breakaway, hauling in a pass from Cam Hausinger and beating ‘Tips goalie Dustin Wolf high to the glove side.
Anders made a late game-saving stop on Connor Dewar to get the contest to a scoreless overtime and then a shootout.
The Rebels were under pressure in the skills competition when Jake Christiansen scored the first goal as the ‘Tips’ fourth shooter. But Jeff de Wit kept it going as the next shooter and after Anders denied Max Patterson, Alex Alexeyev won it for the visitors.
“It’s good for their confidence,” Sutter said of his charges. “They know they can have success if they do things the right way — play hard, battle and be responsible.
“It was a good team effort. Every point is big now and getting two was huge. We can be excited about what we accomplished tonight and now we have to get a good rest and get ready for our next game.”
Anders and Wolf, selected as the game’s first and second stars, were both excellent while making 37 saves apiece.
The Rebels take on the Seattle Thunderbirds Saturday, then head to Portland for a Sunday meeting with the Winter Hawks. Their final game on the US Division trip is Tuesday versus the Tri-City Americans.