Blazers 5 Rebels 3
KAMLOOPS — On yet another evening when they flirted with victory, the Red Deer Rebels let it slip away in the third period.
For a third consecutive game on their B.C. Division road trip, the Rebels lost their grip on a tight contest in the final 20 minutes.
The latest setback came Friday when the Kamloops Blazers struck for two unanswered third-period goals to pull out a 5-3 WHL win over Red Deer before 3,638 fans at the Sandman Centre.
“We don’t play well enough in the third period,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter following his club’s third straight loss on the trip.
“We’re getting away from our details, we start turning pucks over. The urgency to play the game the right way . . . we’re not doing it enough in the third period.”
The Rebels and Blazers were tied 3-3 after two periods before Zane Franklin took advantage of a bounce and scored the eventual winner at 5:52 of the third.
Connor Zary, from behind the Red Deer net, directed the puck out front. It glanced off netminder Ethan Anders and sat at the edge of the crease before being poked home by Franklin.
The hosts killed any suspense 10 minutes later when 16-year-old Logan Stankhoven broke down the right side and beat Anders for his 19th of the season.
“Andy had a tough third period. Those last two goals were tough,” said Sutter.
The Blazers needed just 62 seconds to open the scoring, on a redirect by Orrin Centazzo with Rebels defenceman Ethan Sakowich serving a delay of game infraction.
Kamloops carried the play through the first half of the opening period and only a splendid pad save by Anders on Quinn Schiemann kept it a one-goal game.
Just a few minutes after shooting wide on a breakaway, Cam Hausinger pulled the Rebels even with a power play marker at 15:32 of the first. Kyle Masters carried out of the corner and fed the puck into the front of the net where Hausinger beat goalie Rayce Ramsey from in tight.
The Rebels took their first and only lead of the evening a mere 18 seconds later, with Ben King passing out of the right corner and hitting a streaking Arshdeep Bains, who promptly struck for his 17th of the season.
Kamloops scored back to back just over a minute apart early in the middle period, as Brodi Stuart cashed a rebound and Centazzo buried a loose puck in the crease for his second of the game.
Josh Tarzwell evened it up for the Rebels just past the midway point of the period. His team-leading 25th of the season was a beauty as the Red Deer native powered his way around defenceman Libor Zabransky and, from tight quarters, beat Ramsey to the top of the net.
“We’ve played well on this road trip but we have no points because of letdowns at certain points of the game, usually in the third,” said Sutter. “Our pushback is not where it has to be in the third period of these tight games.”
Anders finished with 25 saves, including a third-period gem on Josh Pillar, while Ramsey turned aside 19 shots.
The Rebels were one-for-four on the power play while the Blazers were one-for-three.
Red Deer is in Kelowna Saturday to take on the Rockets, then close out their five-game trip with a Monday afternoon meeting with the Prince George Cougars.
The Rebels next home game is Saturday, Feb. 22 versus the Tri-City Americans.