The Red Deer Rebels gave their home-opener fans something to cheer about—cashing in their first win against the Edmonton Oil Kings 7-3.
“I thought we worked hard and did things the right way,” Rebels Captain Grayson Pawlenchuk said. “In third, we got a couple big power-play goals and that definitely helped us in the game tonight.”
The Rebels opened the game in a hurry when Austin Pratt cashed in his first of the season, assisted by Buffalo Sabres prospect Brandon Hagel and new import Kristian Reichel. The Rebels would play their QEII rival even for the rest of the first period before Hagel and and Pratt set up Mason McCarty, who was acquired for second-round bantam pick, for the second Rebels’ goal of the game with 1:27 remaining in the period.
The clear highlight of the night came nearly halfway through the second period when left-wing Reese Johnson finished off an amazing pass from winger Akash Bains, who made the pass from his knees in front of the Oil Kings’ goaltender Travis Child.
Hagel would then cash in his first of the game with 6:23 remaining in the second on a cross-ice pass from Alexander Alexeyev.
The Oil Kings would bounce back with a power-play goal at 16:01 from Andrei Pavlenko, after Johnson went to the box on a tripping minor. The Rebels would exit the period up 4-1 with control of the game firmly still in their hands.
Pavlenko got the the Oil Kings off early in third with his second goal of the game on a slick pass from Trey Fix-Wolansky — bringing the score to a tighter 4-2.
The Rebels would have the answer with 7:25 remaining when Pawlenchuk would slam it home from right in front of the Oil Kings’ net, re-establishing the three-goal lead at 5-2.
The Oil Kings, however, would clap back 30 seconds later with a goal by Davis Koch bringing the game to 5-3 going into the final five minutes.
In a flurry, the Rebels netted their sixth goal of the game on a rebound picked up by Reichel, from Pratt and Alexeyev. Pawlenchuk would add another goal from Alexeyev and McCarty bringing the game to the final score of 7-3.
“Tonight is a learning experience,” Rebels Coach Brent Sutter said. “You have to play consistently all the time and you have to do it for 60 minutes. In the third period, we got a break on the power-play and it got us some momentum back.”
The Rebels veteran plays filled up the stat sheet with Pawlenchuk finishing the game with two goals to lead the team.
Pratt, Hagel, Reichel and McCarty all finished with a goal and two assists for three points of his own.
Alexeyev finished off an impressive game with three assists from the blue line.
“I thought a lot of guys played pretty well,” Sutter said.”There are some guys who certainly need to be better for us but it is game one and they will get better.”
Pawlenchuk, who battled the injury bug last season, was pleased to find the net early in the season.
“It felt good to get back going and playing again,” he said. “Getting that first one out of the way has been good. It has been awhile since my last goal in the league.”
Rebels’ goaltender Peterson, who is filling in for starter Riley Lamb who is out for six weeks with a thumb injury, finished with 30 saves. Child would finish with 40 saves for the Oil Kings.
The Rebels now will quickly travel to Edmonton to complete the home and home series in a matinee 4 p.m. game with the Oil Kings at Rogers Place tomorrow.