Hitmen 4 Rebels 3 (SO)
The Red Deer Rebels are at least gaining ground in their quest to turn in 60 minutes of solid hockey.
Unfortunately, they’re not gaining any ground in the WHL standings.
A brief second-period lull damaged the home side Saturday and the Calgary Hitmen eventually recorded a 4-3 shootout victory before 4,256 fans at the Centrium.
Up 3-1 in the second frame, the Rebels watched the visitors strike for two goals in less than a minute. It was a 55-second span that proved costly.
“You’re up 3-1, you just have to continue to do things right. We had played pretty well to that point,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter.
Following a turnover in the Calgary end, Jake Kryski made it a 3-2 game on a three-on-two break during a Calgary power play, and Conner Chaulk then cashed a long rebound to pull the Hitmen even.
“We made a bad play killing a penalty. Instead of just trying to kill the penalty we try to score a goal. The defenceman cheats, there’s an odd-man rush and it’s in your net,” said Sutter, in reference to the circumstances leading to Calgary’s second goal. “It’s probably a bad goal on your goaltender, too.
“They score right away again and all of a sudden it’s 3-3. We got off our game for like five to six minutes.”
Rebels forward Kristian Reichel opened the scoring 7:21 into the contest — igniting a multitude of winter wear tossed by the fans on ‘Toque Toss Night.’ — when he one-timed a feed from Alex Alexeyev past netminder Nick Schneider with Red Deer on the power play.
Defenceman Jake Bean got that one back for the Hitmen, cashing a rebound shortly after, but Lane Zablocki knocked his own rebound by Schneider before the period ended.
Rookie Austin Schellenberg staked the Rebels to a two-goal lead on a fine individual effort early in the second period, working his way past a Calgary defender and scoring on a backhand.
But the Hitmen recovered in short order and the game remained deadlocked through the rest of regulation time and five minutes of overtime, during which Calgary had a full two-minute power play.
The Rebels had plenty of chances to snare the win in the third period, outshooting their guests 14-3. But Schneider stood tall down the stretch, robbing Mason McCarty on a penalty shot and making back-to-back saves on Alexeyev and a breakaway stop on Grayson Pawlenchuk in overtime.
“There needed to be a push in the third and we did that,” said Sutter. “We had chances but didn’t score, and we had chances in overtime and didn’t score.
“Some of these guys, we need to get some goals out of them. They’re getting tremendous chances game after game and not capitalizing. It hurts us.”
The Hitmen outscored their hosts 3-2 in the shootout, with Vladislav Yeryomenko — Calgary’s fifth shooter — notching the decisive goal.
Schneider made 32 saves while posting his eighth win of the season. Lamb blocked 28 shots for the Rebels.
“I didn’t like two of their goals on Lamber tonight,” said Sutter. “He’s a 19-year-old goaltender and a goalie we need some veteran saves from. I didn’t think he played that well tonight and that hurt us too.
“I’m not going to point fingers at anybody, but these are the things that are hurting us. We have to get on the other side of this wall.”
The loss was Red Deer’s eighth in a row dating back to a 5-3 win Nov. 14 at Victoria.
“We’ll take the point and move on, but we have to win some games at home and we haven’t been doing that,” said Sutter. “We find different ways of shooting ourselves in the foot. We just have to stay with it and hopefully break through it.”
Notable: Red Deer forward Brandon Hagel sat out with an upper body injury and is listed as week-to-week . . . Selected as the game’s three stars were (1) Bean, (2) Zablocki and (3) Pawlenchuk, who picked up two assists . . . The Rebels are in Lethbridge Wednesday to face the Hurricanes, then return home for Friday and Saturday games versus the Moose Jaw Warriors and Swift Current Broncos.