The Red Deer Rebels opened up their preseason with a Friday night tilt against the Edmonton Oil Kings.
The game, which Red Deer would go on to win 6-5, was the opening of a two-game preseason tournament featuring Red Deer, Edmonton, the Calgary Hitmen and the Kootenay Ice.
The Rebels, who feature a number of younger players and were carrying 34 skaters heading into the game, opened up the scoring when over-aged defenceman Colin Paradis whacked home a shot from the blueline.
“It was good to see those young guys play,” Rebels Coach Brent Sutter said. “There were young guys on both teams and that is what exhibition is for, early especially.”
Edmonton would begin to put on pressure following the Paradis goal, eventually leading to a nifty goal by forward Vince Loschiavo — tying the game at a goal a piece.
The Rebels would, however, manage to regain the one-goal lead after Austin Schellenberg banged home a crisp pass from Alex Morozoff, putting the Rebels up 2-1 heading into the second period.
The Oil Kings would have the answer early in the second frame after veteran Brett Kemp snuck it past Rebels netminder Byron Fancy, tying the game 2-2.
Edmonton would continue the pressure, eventually leading to their second goal of the period by Logan Moon — putting them up 3-2 with over 13 minutes to go in the period.
The Rebels would, luckily, stop the bleeding after a 5-on-3 powerplay lead to point shot by Dawson Barteaux, tying the game at three.
Barteaux said the game was a positive step for the team.
“It was good to see how we compare against other teams’ prospects. To play our systems right, play hard and take them out was big for us,” he said
From there, the Rebels would find momentum leading to a goal by Jordan Borysiuk, putting Red Deer back in the lead 4-3.
It would continue to be Red Deer’s period after Rebels Captain Reese Johnson added another goal, putting his team up 5-3 heading into the final frame.
Sutter was happy with his team’s powerplay on the night.
“The powerplay was fine. After the first couple, I thought we got moving better and handled the pucks better,” he said.
The third would take a while to get going, but Red Deer would continue to light the lamp after hometown boy Josh Tarzwell scored, putting his team up 6-3 with just over 11 minutes to play in the game.
The Oil Kings would eventually have an answer when Moon scored his second goal of the game, putting the game within reach 6-4.
Edmonton Oil King Quinn Benjafield would score again with 24 seconds left, but it would be too little, too late with the Rebels hold on to win 6-4.
“There were moments where we were better than other moments, but it is the first game of the exhibition season and a lot of guys hadn’t played together with one another,” Sutter said. “Both teams had a lot of young kids in their line-up.
“It was good to see how guys handle certain things and it gives us a feel of things.”
Byron Fancy would stop 30 shots to pick up the win.
The Rebels play the second game of their preseason tournament tomorrow against Calgary, 7 p.m. at the Centrium, preceded by the Oil Kings and Kootenay at 3 p.m.