Sam Reinhart scored the winner while Mackenzie Skapski made three stops to lift the Kootenay Ice to a 4-3 shootout victory over the Rebels in Red Deer on Wednesday night.
Despite falling to an early 2-0 deficit, the Ice were able to mount a comeback in the third period to tie up the game at 3-3 and force the shootout after a scoreless extra frame.
Jaedon Descheneau scored a pair of goals, while Ryan Chynoweyth added a goal to the scoresheet. Skapski made 25 saves over the course of the game, including overtime.
Reinhart scored the only goal in the shootout, as Tim Bozon and Rinat Valiev were turned away by Rebels netminder Patrik Bartosak.
Despite a softer start, Kootenay was able to improve throughout the second and third period, said head coach Ryan McGill.
“We got better as the game went on,” McGill said. “We had to adjust our lines, we were okay territorially in the first 12 minutes of the game, but we didn’t generate anything.
“We gave up two easy goals and that can’t happen.”
The Rebels just about drew blood 10 seconds into the game, taking advantage of a bad giveaway in the Kootenay zone, but Skapski was there to make the save.
However, Red Deer did get on the board six minutes into the game on a turnover, as Lukas Sutter put a low wrist shot into the back of the net.
As the seconds ticked down to end the first period, Matt Bellerive double the lead for the Rebels, beating a screened Skapski on a wrist shot.
In the middle frame, Descheneau cut the lead in half over 10 minutes in by redirecting a backdoor pass from defenceman Jagger Dirk, who posted his 100th career WHL point with the assist.
Red Deer answered back early in the third period on a shorthanded effort, as Brooks Maxwell stole the puck at the Rebels blue line on an Ice power play, and scored on a breakaway.
However, Descheneau responded with a backhander in the slot that beat Bartosak after Matt Alfaro did some digging in the corner for the puck.
With just under 10 minutes to go in the third period, Rinat Valiev threw the biscuit on net and Ryan Chynoweth shovelled away to score his second goal of the season to tie up the affair.
“The second period, we only had one goal to show for it, but we were trending upwards, and I thought we were better in the third,” said McGill.
“I guess you could kind of call it a bit of an ugly hockey game, but two points is two points and it’s a big win for us as far as coming back, being down on the road going into the third period.”
The Ice took two late penalties and had to make some key special teams performances at the end of the frame and into overtime. Kootenay killed off all three Red Deer powerplays, but were unable to capitalize on two of their own.
“Our first powerplay, we had lots of opportunities to score goals, we had no finish in our game on the powerplay, but we definitely had scoring chances,” said McGill. “Unfortunately we didn’t score.
“I will say this—the penalty kill was huge character in the third, for sure.”
Overtime solved nothing, though Red Deer held the edge in shots 4-1. Bozon, Reinhart and Valiev—who was chosen, according to McGill, because of his performance in a shootout drill earlier this week—were tapped for the shootout.
Red Deer fielded Rhyse Dieno, Dominik Volek and Connor Bleackley—all of whom were stopped by Skapski, who has an unblemished record in the shootout.
In handing the Rebels their fifth straight loss, Kootenay leapfrogs ahead of the Edmonton Oil Kings into fourth place in the Eastern Conference.