The Red Deer Rebels were floundering in the deep end of the pool after dropping Games 1 and 2 in their seven-game series against the Lethbridge Hurricanes over the weekend.
The night would end up echoing last year’s playoff Game 3 double-overtime game between the same two squads which saw the Rebels take away a win on a goal by Evan Polei.
This year it would be the Hurricanes who had the last laugh after Calen Addison scored just 40 seconds into the first overtime leading to a 5-4 win and a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.
Winning a pivotal Game 3 at the Enmax Centrium for the Rebels theoretically required a quick start, especially considering the Red Deer Rebels had coughed up 14 goals and only managed to score three of their own over the previous two games in Lethbridge.
It looked liked Mason McCarty gave the Rebels the early spark they were craving, scoring what appeared to be his first goal of the playoffs just 30 seconds into the game, however, the goal was quickly called back after a discussion among the officiating crew.
The no-goal would nearly instantly hurt the Rebels after a subsequent penalty by Chris Douglas quickly led to Lethbridge forward Taylor Ross scoring his third of the playoffs, putting the Rebels down a goal early.
“The big thing is special teams. They score every powerplay,” Rebels forward Kristian Reichel said. “We need to be better at not taking dumb penalties. We need to be better at our PK.”
It would take the majority of the period for the Rebels to find a way to tie it up. Brandon Hagel, on the penalty kill, would win a puck battle near centre ice and then broke free to the net, roofing the short-handed goal over Lethbridge netminder Logan Flodell to tie the game at one a piece.
The Rebels would head into the first intermission tied at one.
It would be the Hurricanes who capitalize first in the second after Zach Cox pulled the puck out from behind the net and slipped it past Lamb for his second of the playoffs, putting Lethbridge up 2-1.
The Rebels would continue to answer the call though after Reichel fired a goal past Flodell to tie the game up once again at two with just over six to play in the second period.
“We played better than down in Lethbridge,” Reichel said.
It looked as if the period was going to end all square until Hagel took a delay of game penalty on a long shift, which quickly led to Brad Morrison’s fourth goal of the playoffs and 10th point of the series.
Red Deer would head into the final intermission down 3-2.
Things would get no better for the home squad in the third after the Hurricanes extended their lead 13 minutes into the game on a straight line drive from Jordy Bellerive, making the game 4-2.
The pressure, however, seemed to give the Rebels a quick burst of speed after Rebels Captain Grayson Pawlenchuk seconds later drove the Lethbridge net putting the game back to within a goal.
The Rebels would spend the final five minutes continually applying pressure to the Hurricane defence which eventually led to a huge goal by Reese Johnson, but — once again — the officials waved off the goal which resulted in a smattering of boos from the home crowd. The play did result in a Rebels powerplay.
Thankfully, the Rebels kept their composure leading to a quick blast from Reichel which pushed the game to overtime — tied 4-4.
Overtime wouldn’t amount to much for the Rebels after they started the frame on the penalty kill which quickly resulted in a game-winning goal by Calen Addison.
“It (the powerplay) has been the difference in the series. They have got some tough goals on us which you don’t want at this time of the season,” Sutter said.
The Rebels now play tomorrow night in Red Deer, down three game to none with their season on the line.
“We need to win tomorrow,” Reichel said. “I’ve seen a lot of comebacks like that. We will be ready tomorrow — ready to battle like today.”
Puck drops at 7 p.m. in Red Deer at the Enmax Centrium.
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