REBELS WIN! - From left

Rebels oust Wheat Kings in dramatic fashion

The Red Deer Rebels booked their ticket to the Memorial Cup semi-final game in dramatic fashion Wednesday night getting revenge on the WHL champion Brandon Wheat Kings with a 2-1 victory in overtime.

A beautiful one-timer goal by Evan Polei turned out to be the final straw that broke the Wheat Kings’ back, officially eliminating them from the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament to secure the second place spot for the Rebels.

“The adrenaline’s just pumping. You’re not thinking, you’re just so excited that you scored that goal,” said Polei after the game.

The big left handed winger from Wetaskiwin scored just 3:50 into the overtime period on a pass from linemate Conner Bleackley to seal the deal.

“To be honest I thought he was going to shoot it,” laughed Polei about Bleackley’s cross-ice pass.

It was a sweet victory for the Rebels, who were eliminated from the WHL playoffs in five games by the Wheat Kings in the Eastern Conference final.

“I guess part of it is no one has short memories. I know that we were beaten in the semis by Brandon and rightly so. They’ve got a very very good hockey team. That’s the thing about this tournament, you can come in here and be a champion in your own league but if things don’t go exactly right you might not have success in it,” said Rebels’ Head Coach/GM Brent Sutter after the game.

The game itself was one of the closest and most exciting match-ups of the tournament so far. Both the Rebels and the Wheat Kings came out flying and matched each other blow-for-blow but neither were able to find the back of the net in the opening frame.

“It was a real tight checking game. There wasn’t much room, much space out there,” Sutter said.

It took until halfway through the second period, but eventually the Wheat Kings were able to break through as Tim McGauley sniped a shot past Rebels’ goaltender Rylan Toth to give the Wheat Kings their first lead of the tournament.

Brandon goalie Jordan Papirny did his best to keep the Rebels at bay through the rest of the second and the third period, stopping nearly 20 shots in that time frame, but the Rebels refused to give up.

Eventually, with the Rebels on the power-play, the breakthrough came. At 14:55 of the third period, Adam Musil jammed home a rebound off a Haydn Fleury shot for his first goal of the tournament to tie it up at one.

Because of the way the Memorial Cup’s tie breaker rules work, the goal all but guaranteed Red Deer a berth in the semi-finals, as the Wheat Kings would have had to beat them by three goals or more in order to leapfrog the Rebels into second place.

Despite that, Red Deer knew they wanted to be the ones to end Brandon’s season.

“Our mindset was to win the game tonight. We didn’t want to have a situation, personally for ourselves where we lost the game but got in on a goal differential,” Sutter said.

It was a disappointing loss for the Wheat Kings, who finished the tournament with an 0-3 record.

“We had higher hopes coming into the tournament, obviously, than how it played out. But the three teams that played the best are the three teams that are still playing. So credit to those teams and it’ll be a great finish to the tournament,” said Wheat Kings’ Head Coach/GM Kelly McCrimmon.

“Somewhere between Seattle and Red Deer we lost our mojo and we never got going anywhere near the level that we had in the playoffs.”

The Rebels are back in action on Friday night when they take on the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the semi-final game to determine who will play the London Knights for the Memorial Cup in the final game, Sunday. Puck drop on Friday’s game will be at 6 p.m.

zcormier@reddeerexpress.com

Just Posted

WATCH: Loads of tasty ribs featured at Ribfest Red Deer

Ribfest Red Deer runs Aug. 17th to 19th near the Tennis Dome

Central Alberta Yogathon raising awareness for mental health

Funds raised go towards the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre

Military Vehicle Display and Swap Meet will bring over 40 military vehicle displays

People from across Alberta will head to Red Deer for 2nd annual event

Fred Eaglesmith and Tif Ginn head to the Elks Lodge Sept. 14th

Talented duo first in Central Music Festival’s new season

UPDATED: Gord Bamford Foundation Charity Gala brings the stars to Central Alberta

The Gala raises money for various children’s charities throughout Canada

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Ponoka’s Ronnie Racing wins Hot August Night

About 15,000 people filled the Castrol Raceway stands at the motorsports complex

Vintage vehicle subject of RCMP search

Two Hills RCMP seek to identify owner of recovered 1940’s vehicle

Canada’s tax system unfairly favours wealthy, poll of CRA auditors suggests

Four of every five respondents think loopholes and tax credits built into the system benefit the rich

Banff’s Sunshine ski resort upset with proposed guidelines from Parks Canada

The plan would allow for more visitors but wouldn’t let Sunshine build additional facilities

Publication ban lifted on details about Fredericton shooting that killed 4

Judge lifts publication ban on court documents related to the Fredericton shooting

Feds to allow charities to engage in political, but not partisan, activity

The plan is to allow charities to pursue political activities

Trump suggests Canada has been sidelined from latest NAFTA negotiations

Canadian officials have insisted they’re unfazed by being left out of the discussions

Photographer files complaint with police after alleged assault on the job

Toronto photographer says he was attacked while covering a protest

Most Read