Penalties prove costly as Rebels fall to Calgary in OT
Hitmen 4 Rebels 3 (OT)
You could say the Red Deer Rebels let one slip away Friday at the Peavey Mart Centrium.
In fact, you could say it with an exclamation point.
Up 3-2 with the clock rapidly winding down, the Rebels surrendered a power-play goal with less than one second remaining, then watched as Riley Fiddler-Schultz scored late in overtime to give the Calgary Hitmen a 4-3 WHL win.
Hitmen defenceman Carter Yakemchuk beat Rebels netminder Chase Coward with a rising shot from the top of the right circle with the clock showing 0:00. But following a video review, it was determined that there were 0.6 seconds remaining, thus the game went to overtime.
The Rebels could only blame themselves for the setback, with the visitors cashing in on their third power play of the period.
They played with fire and they were singed in front of a boisterous gathering of 5,310.
“A frustrating loss. There was a lot of hard work but when you take penalties and you’re putting the team short-handed it catches up to you,” said Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk, just minutes after Fiddler-Schultz scored from the high slot with a shot that might have glanced off the stick of Rebels defenceman Jace Weir before finding its way past Coward.
“That’s really the thing to take away — the penalties. We have to be better.”
The game looked like it would be a high-scoring affair as the teams went into the first intermission with the Rebels up 3-2.
The Hitmen, who are in a battle for a playoff berth and moved into a tie with the Swift Current Broncos for eighth place in the Eastern Conference with the victory, opened the scoring 6:19 into the contest.
Maxim Muranov broke down the right side and from the goal line passed out front to Anaheim Ducks prospect Sean Tschigerl, who promptly potted his 22nd goal of the season.
The Rebels wasted little time responding as Kai Uchacz connected just 58 seconds later on the power play with a one-timer from the top of the left circle after taking a blueline feed from Christoffer Sedoff. It was his 48th goal of the season.
The home side needed just another 27 seconds to grab the lead, with Craig Armstrong, down low, hauling in a rink-wide pass from Mats Lindgren and beating netminder Brayden Peters to the far corner.
Tschigerl pulled the visitors even just past the midway point of the frame, cutting wide to the net and slipping the puck through Coward’s pads.
But the Rebels regained the lead late in the period, off the stick of Dwayne Jean Jr. Sedoff, from the point, fired the puck off the end boards where Talon Brigley deflected it high and Jean Jr. batted it home.
The clubs battled through a high-octane contest the rest of the way, with the Rebels wasting a glorious opportunity to add to their lead during an almost full two-minute, two-man advantage in the second period.
Peters made at least a half dozen saves during the extended power play and from there the score didn’t change until Yakemchuk’s extremely late equalizer.
“They played hard,” said Konowalchuk, referring to the Hitmen. “Obviously they would be, they’re playing for their lives.
“I thought our guys played pretty hard too. It’s just with those kind of penalties coming down the stretch and in playoffs you won’t win too many games.
“You have to be good hockey players. Good hockey players don’t parade to the box with 200-foot penalties. Good hockey players don’t do that all the time. I don’t know if they were undisciplined, you just can’t do that consistently. If you’re on top of your game and you’re playing smart, you don’t take those kind of penalties.”
The teams meet again Saturday afternoon in Calgary.
“The last four games our effort has been there,” said Konowalchuk. “A lot of things to take away, guys are battling and competing. Let’s hope this is a lesson as it really ramps up here.”
Notable: Peters turned aside 31 shots in a strong showing, including a fantastic glove save on Uchacz in overtime. Coward was also sharp with a 35-save performance . . . The Hitmen were one-for-six on the power play, the Rebels one-for-four . . . Saturday’s game will complete the eight-game season series between the teams. Red Deer has won five of seven so far . . . The three stars: (1) Tschigerl, (2) Sedoff, who picked up two assists, and (3) Jean Jr. . . . Uchacz extended his points streak to four games, while teammate Ben King recorded an assist to push his run to five games . . . Prior to the game, Weir was honoured as the Mitchell and Jewell Rebels Player of the Month for February and Brigley was presented with the Telus Scholastic Player of the Month award.