The Red Deer Rebels already have a playoff date set with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the first round of the Western Hockey League Playoffs, but home-ice advantage is still on the line with three games remaining in the regular season.
Red Deer would need to win out and Lethbridge would not have to get a single point in their final three games for the first two games of the playoffs to be at the friendly confines of the Enmax Centrium.
The Rebels would go on to win 5-2, keeping their home ice dream alive and also getting in a solid tune-up game against the Hurricanes on Wednesday night.
So far this season, Lethbridge has had the advantage over Red Deer winning four out of five games and the first half of the first period appeared like it was heading in Lethbridges way.
Despite only have one shot in the first 10 minutes, it would be the Rebels who would find a way to score first after Kristian Reichel zipped down the right side and scored his 33rd goal of the year past Hurricane netminder Reece Klassen.
The goal gave Red Deer some momentum for the rest of the frame and it appeared they would have another one, but a Hurricane penalty erased a goal which came after the whistle meaning the Rebels would head into the second period up a goal 1-0.
The momentum would continue for the Rebels in the second period after home-town boy Josh Tarzwell put his team up 2-1 after he took a pass from Reichel for his 10th goal of the season.
The Hurricanes would have the answer through after the Rebels took a penalty and Zane Franklin ripped a shot past Rebels goalie Riley Lamb, putting Lethbridge within one and back into contention.
The Rebels spirit would not be kept quit though after Reichel managed to rip home a rebound, just a few short minutes after he looked like he injured his lower body.
“We played pretty well,” Reichel. “Second and third period we played well. The first we played kind of lazy but we got into it and we deserved the win.”
The Rebels would head into the final frame with a two goal lead, up 3-1.
The third period started out a lot like the second with the Rebels finding the twine right away. Mason McCarty charged over the blue line and found Brandon Hagel with a beauty pass for Hagel’s 18th of the year, putting the Rebels up 4-1.
Reichel said his line with Hagel and McCarty has been working.
“Every shot, every pass is working and hopefully we will take that to the playoffs,” Reichel said.
Lethbridge would fire back though after Brendan Stafford fired up his team with a tilt against Arshdeep Bains. Jake Elmer would score for Lethbridge almost immediately after both guys were sent to the box for the fighting.
It wouldn’t be enough though as Reese Johnson would add an insurance goal for the Rebels, his 23rd of the year, to put the game to an end 5-2
Lamb would finish with 32 stops on the night and the Rebels dreams of home-ice advantage would stay alive for another night.
The Rebels play their last two games of the season this weekend against Kootenay, with the Rebels playing on home ice Friday at 7 p.m.
“We want to pick it up for Friday and try to dial it in for two points. Anything can happen. We will be prepared and see what happens,” Reichel said.
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