Red Deer Rebels 4 – 3 (s/o) Prince Albert Raiders
The Red Deer Rebels (14-23-2-3) had a tough test at home against one of the best teams in the WHL’s Eastern Conference, the Prince Albert Raiders (23-14-5-2).
Both teams came into the their fourth matchup of the year having played extra time the previous night: the Rebels losing to the Lethbridge Hurricanes in overtime 4-3; and the Raiders defeating the the Edmonton Oil Kings 2-1 also in extra minutes.
After the Rebels came back from a 3-1 deficit, it would take more than overtime this time to decides things. Ben King and Josh Tarzwell both scored in the shootout and Ethan Anders would stay strong between the pipes— leading to 4-3 Rebels win.
“It was a heck of game, really. We were down 3-1,” Coach Brent Sutter said.
The first period saw neither team being able to capture the momentum to open a big lead, but the Raiders did score the lone goal of the frame when Ilya Usau put one past Ethan Anders for his 15th of the year.
The Rebels would show life in the second, but the results would be the same. Zak Smith would score his eighth of the year for Red Deer; but a late goal by Raider Landon Kosior would reestablish the one-goal lead heading into the third.
“This year I have been struggling with points but I am trying to stick with my game. This year, I have been getting better at different aspects of my game and I think offence will come. Tonight it definitely did,” Smith said.
It looked like this one was over after Eric Pearce netted an early goal for the Raiders, but a goal by Keaton Sorenson to keep the Rebels within one kept the dream alive.
“It was a big goal by Keaton to get us right back into it quickly. We got a powerplay and then something happened,” Sutter said.
The Rebels would manage to tie it up on another goal by Smith, leading this game to overtime.
“Even when we were down 3-1, we just kept rolling and came back and got a win out of it,” Smith said.
With extra minutes deciding nothing, this game went to a shootout — which Red Deer dominated.
“When you get to overtime, you don’t know how it will work out. I thought this weekend we played hard,” Sutter said.
Tarzwell would score first, followed by Ben King — with a two stops by Anders being the difference resulting in a 4-3 shootout final.
“I thought we played with a lot of emotion. The last couple games, everyone has been stepping up and filling their roles. We have been rolling and tonight I thought we played with speed,” Smith said.
Anders finished with 31 saves on the night for his seventh win, while Carter Serhyenko stopped 24 in the losing effort.
“Andy has been struggling with injuries the last couple months. You would understand that he could have got rusty but he didn’t. He stayed strong, made big saves and kept us in the game,” Smith said.
Red Deer will now host the Calgary Hitmen on Jan. 25, while Prince Albert will return home to take on the Oil Kings.