(ok... maybe I went a bit over the top with the headline... or maybe not lol)
It's not just 'that' the Red Deer Rebels won last night... but 'how' they won that could prove to be a launching point for the rest of the season.
Trailing the high flying Tri City Americans 2-0 after two periods of play last night at the Enmax Centrium. That meant they Rebels would need comeback of Herculean proportions to salvage any points and gain ground on Brandon (who lost 6-2 in Edmonton FYI).
John Persson would carry out the first (not necessarily out of 12) task for the Rebels when he got them on the board early in the third period, cutting their deficit to 2-1. It was a skilled goal by a skilled player as Johnny P showed some great hands in tight before tucking the puck past Americans goalie Eric Comrie.
That lit the fuse for the fans in the stands as the thousands of Rebels faithful in attendance had been anxiously waiting for their hometown heroes make a rally.
Next up... Deven Dubyk with a number of outstanding saves to keep the Rebels in it (really, he'd already been doing that through the first two periods). But in the third period Dubyk's highway robberies of both Patrick Holland and Adam Hughesman set the stage another Rebels hero to step up.
Cue Mathew Dumba. With 9:08 remaining in the third period, Dumba broke into the offensive zone for a shot on net, only to be stopped by Comrie. But the fine young defenceman followed up and jammed home his own rebound to tie the game 2-2. And if you thought the crowd was into it after Persson's goal...
The Rebels and Americans then traded scoring chances through the rest of the third period. But after sixty minutes of play and 75 combined shots on net this game was going to overtime.
But not for long...
Not satisfied with just tying this game up, Dumba took it upon himself to score the game winner for the Rebels as well. Just 38 seconds into the extra frame, he roofed a shot high past Comrie.
The Herculean comeback was complete... which for me created two causes for concern... the state of the Enmax Centrium after the raucous crowd lifted the lid... and the state of my left elbow following a rather exuberant fist pump.
The win itself is important, of course. But coming back from being two goals down against one of the best teams in the entire CHL is the kind of thing that will provide this Rebels team with a "we can beat anyone, on any night" mentality.
And they will need to apply that mentality starting tonight in what Jesse Wallin admits is the 'biggest game of the year' for his club. The Brandon Wheat Kings visit the Enmax Centrium two points up on the Rebels for the eighth and final playoff spot. With a win tonight, the Rebels would technically stake claim to the playoff spot due to less games played.
Oh... it's also 80's night tonight... can't wait to see and hear what the evening has in store!
- Adam Kambeitz is the biggest cause for concern coming out of last night's game. The Rebels captain was slashed late in the first period and went down awkwardly. He gutted out a couple of shifts early in the second period before leaving the game for good. His status for tonight is TBA.
- You can also add defenceman Kayle Doetzel to the Rebels list of injuries. He missed last night's game with an upper body injury he suffered Wednesday night versus Vancouver.
- It really was fun to see the Feser brothers play against each other for the first, and quite possibly only, time ever. Older brother Justin has been quite a leader for the Americans during his four seasons with Tri City. Scott definitely has the potential to do the same with the Rebels. Americans coach Jim Hiller is definitely impressed with the younger Feser!
- Red Deer minor hockey products Derek Ryckman, acquired earlier this season from Lethbridge, and Mitch Topping were also in the line up for the Americans last night.