|Nelson Nogier (#6) and goalie Trevor Martin protect the Red Deer net.|
RED DEER, Alta. - It wasn’t a textbook victory by any stretch for the Red Deer Rebels, but when it comes to the WHL playoffs, all that matters is finding a way win.
On Saturday night at the Enmax Centrium, the Rebels stumbled out of the gate falling behind 2-0 on a pair of power-play goals scored by the visiting Regina Pats. The Rebels netted a pair of power-play goals of their own in the second to tie things up at 2-2 and bring to life the crowd of 5,845 spectators.
In the third, Evan Polei roofed home the winner at the 7:51 mark to give the Rebels a 3-2 victory in Game 1 of a best-of-seven second round playoff series with the Pats.
“It was a game of speciality teams probably on the positive and negative side,” said Rebels head coach, general manager and owner Brent Sutter. “There were too many penalties.
“We took some bad penalties in the first period that put us down. We took a couple of penalties 200 feet from out net. They capitalized on two power plays, and then our penalty killing was good after.
|Cole Sanford had a big power-play goal for the Pats.|
Red Deer committed four minor infractions in the opening 20 minutes, which helped tilt the ice in favour of the Pats. At the 2:14 mark, Pats overage defenceman Colby Williams slipped home a point shot on a power play to give Regina a 1-0 lead.
The Pats proceeded to go up 2-0 on their second power-play chance, when Sam Steel and Adam Brooks worked the puck over to skilled sniper Cole Sanford, who made no mistake burying his fourth of the post-season into an open cage.
The Rebels defencemen also committed a handful of bad giveaways in the first and missed a few big hit attempts, which allowed Regina to have a couple of extra odd-man rushes. The Pats held a 10-4 edge in shots going into the first intermission.
Red Deer started carrying the play more in the second and caught a break at the 12:04 mark, when Pats left-winger Robbie Holmes and Williams were both sent off for hooking and slashing minors respectively at the same time.
On the ensuing two-man advantage, the puck slid over to Rebels left-winger Adam Helewka at the right side of the Regina goal during a net scramble situation. Helewka lifted home a shot over fallen Pats goaltender Tyler Brown to cut Regina’s lead to 2-1.
|Colton Bobyk had a goal and an assist to power the Rebels comeback.|
Sutter said the Rebels focused on coming out with more intensity in the second period.
“I just think the emotion level had to pick up,” said Sutter. “I think that we were playing on our heels, and that is not taking anything away from Regina, because I thought they had a heck of a first period.
“I thought we needed to get ourselves into the game.”
In the third, the Rebels netted the winning goal, when Bobyk fed the puck down the right wing to Polei putting him in the clear. Polei drove to the net and fired home a shot to the top right corner of the Regina goal.
“It was a good play by (Colton) Bobyk giving me the puck there, and I got an opportunity and it was nice to capitalize,” said Polei. “I was thinking about cutting to the middle and putting it low blocker.
“Then I decided he was going to be cheating that way, so I just had a quick shot and put it upstairs.”
The Rebels, who host the Memorial Cup in May, still had to kill off a couple of late minor penalties in the third, which resulted in Regina having a two-man advantage for 48 seconds. The penalty killing trio of Adam Musil, Grayson Pawlenchuk and Nelson Nogier did a great job collapsing down low around the goal to keep the Pats at bay and preserve the win.
|Evan Polei (#10) fires home the winning goal for the Rebels.|
Trevor Martin made 20 saves to earn the win in goal for the Rebels. Brown turned away 28 shots to take the loss in the Regina net.
As the series moves forward, Polei said his side can’t continue to play from behind like in Saturday’s series opener.
“We definitely need to start better to beat this team in the upcoming games for sure,” said Polei. “They (the Pats) are a great hockey team. They play hard and physical every game every night.
“We need to be on the ball for the start of the game.”
Game 2 of the series is set for Sunday at 5 p.m. Red Deer time at the Enmax Centrium.
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