Everything was on the line.
Luckily for the Red Deer Rebels, they gave everything they had and lived to fight at least one more game after winning 5-2 over the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
“This is a great win. We needed the win and everyone played a good game. It was a good team effort,” Forward Reese Johnson said.
Rebels Coach Brent Sutter said it was obvious his team needed a win.
“We did a lot of good things and had certain individuals play better tonight. Our team game was better and wasn’t as loose as it was last night. We capitalized on some opportunities and got some key saves,” he said.
The Rebels came into Game 4 of their seven-game series against the Hurricanes in need of a miracle after falling behind 3-0 in the series.
Coming off a game that saw the Rebels lose 5-4 in overtime and included having two goals called back, the Rebels were surely hoping for some better luck in order to avoid the series sweep.
To avoid that sweep, Red Deer was also going to need scoring from guys other than Kristian Reichel, Brandon Hagel, Grayson Pawlenchuk and Josh Tarzwell — who have been the only Rebels to find the back of the net thus far in the series.
They would also need to find a way to shut down the Hurricane powerplay which has helped forward Brad Morrison notch 11 points in three games for Lethbridge.
The first period saw the Rebels carry the momentum for the majority of the first 10 minutes until Johnson buried a stellar feed from Brandon Cutler to put Red Deer up 1-0.
“Every game you obviously wan to get the lead up on the scoreboard and it was huge this game,” Johnson said about scoring first.
The Rebels continued to dominate the puck — winning in the shot department — but Hurricane Matthew Stanley would negate the time of possession scoring with under a minute left on a redirect to tie the game at one heading into the first intermission.
The first 10 minutes of the second period would continue to favour the Rebels in shots but the home squad was having difficulty breaking the tie.
Brandon Hagel was called for tripping a minor just after the media time out with just over nine to play, putting Lethbridge on the powerplay for the first time.
Red Deer, in this instance, managed to stifle a Lethbridge powerplay unit that has been dynamite throughout the series.
The Lethbridge powerplay would give the Hurricanes momentum, leading to a goal by Tate Olson which put them up 2-1 with just over four minutes to play in the period.
Not to be out done, the Rebels came firing right back after Mason McCarty fired one past Logan Flodell — tying the game up at two.
Red Deer would head into the third period with their season on the line, all square at two goals each.
Hagel came out of the gates in the third period flying, quickly putting his team up a goal just over 30 seconds into the frame.
The Rebels would continue to impress in the third after Ethan Anders made a huge save, followed by a two-man breakaway with Alexander Alexeyev coming out of the penalty box to put the Rebels up 4-2.
Brandon Hagel would take a late hooking minor but Kristian Reichel would go on to score an empty net goal on the ensuing six on four leading to the final score of 5-2 Rebels.
“We needed push back from everyone and it has been awesome these two games at home. We have to carry that into Saturday,” Johnson said.
Ethan Anders stopped 28 shots for the win.
“Andy made some key saves late in the third,” Johnson said. “On some good quality scoring chances, he stopped the puck which is huge.”
Sutter said Anders didn’t get rattled after the Hurricane’s first goal.
“He stayed settled in,” Sutter said. “You have to stay focused and make the next save and he carried on.”
The Rebels’ next game is Saturday in Lethbridge. If they win that, Game 6 will be at the Enmax Centrium Sunday at 7 p.m.
“The two games we played here were much better than the two games we played there. We have to carry that on, go in there and see what happens,” Sutter said.
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