Sunday, April 8, 2012

Optimist Rebels Win Pacific Title, Advance To Telus Cup

He was first credited with scoring the game winner on Friday night when in fact it was Ty Mappin's goal. This time, Dylan Thudium made sure he would get his just due.

Thudium scored 2:02 into the second overtime to give the Red Deer Optimist Rebels a 4-3 win over the Vancouver NW Giants. Red Deer wins the Pacific Region Midget AAA Final 2-0 and will play at the Telus Cup national championship tournament, April 23 - 29.

Funny enough, Mappin's name was the one announced as having scored the game winner. But make no mistake, it was Thudium who clinched the series for Red Deer.

"Tanner Lomsnes made a good play on the wall just to chip out front" Thudium said in describing his overtime goal. "Then I just grabbed it quick and ripped it at the net and it went right bar [post] and in. I was pretty lucky actually. I didn't try and pick that spot, I just fired it at the net."

Lucky, perhaps. But this blogger is a firm believer that you have to be good to be lucky. And the Optimist Rebels were indeed good. Exceptionally so. But it didn't start out that way.

Neither the Optimist Rebels or the NW Giants seemed to be at their best in the opening period. But Vancouver did have two or three point blank scoring chances only to be thwarted by Red Deer goalie Dasan Sydora.

The floodgates opened up in the second period. Adam Helewka, Vancouver's leading scorer in both the regular season and playoffs, scored the Giants first goal of the series 2:42 into the second period which definitely energized the road squad (though they were the designated "home" team for game two). Giants Captain Taylor Tanti, son of former NHLer Tony Tanti, gave his team a two-goal lead at the 8:50 mark, creating a sense of frustration for the Optimist Rebels. Red Deer players, notably goaltender Dasan Sydora, were furious in thinking the goal should not have counted (feeling the net was knocked out of position). But nevertheless, Vancouver led 2-0.

Cue the turning point for Red Deer. Seeing the frustration and feeling the need to regroup, Optimist Rebels Head Coach Doug Quinn called a timeout.

"We were playing well but after they scored the body language did not look good at all" Quinn noted following the game. "It [the timeout] was just a matter of trying to refocus and realize there's a lot of game left."

Point taken. Just 55 seconds after the timeout, Thudium scored his first goal of the game to get the Optimist Rebels on the board and the Red Deer fans (approx. 1200 of them) on their feet and back in the game.

If the timeout was one thing that tilted the game in Red Deer's favour, depth on their bench was the other. Red Deer continued to roll out three forward lines in the second period while Vancouver had already cut down to two lines. It was quite noticeable as the game went on and with just over a minute left in the second period Logan Fisher tipped home a Stefan Danielson point shot for a game tying powerplay goal. 2-2 through 40 minutes.

Nick Glackin's goal 6:59 into the third period gave Red Deer its first lead of the game and you kind of got the sense that the Optimist Rebels would pull away with it from there. But give Vancouver credit, they kept battling and tied the game less than three minutes later at 9:44. Josh Thrower, who seems like a lock to play in the WHL for the Calgary Hitmen after his stellar performance in this series, rifled a point shot past a screened Dasan Sydora. 3-3. Overtime beckoned.

And overtime nearly ended as quickly as it began. The Mappin, Thudium, Lomsnes line came out flying and nearly jammed the puck into the next on their opening shift. But Vancouver goalie Liam Smith, who got the start despite Braden Krogfoss' MVP-style performance in game one, held the fort. He would continue holding the fort through the rest of the 10 minute overtime period. Red Deer outshot Vancouver 11-0 but to no avail. The NW Giants held on long enough to force a second overtime period.

From there, Thudium netted the game and series winner sending Red Deer to the Telus Cup for the second time in three years.

The Optimist Rebels will take a couple of days to enjoy their triumph in the regional final before returning to practice on Tuesday.

(more to come tomorrow) - TG



SHOTS - RD 13, VAN 7

2:42 VAN Helewka (Landon)
8:50 VAN
Tanti (unassisted)
9:45 RD Thudium (Mappin, Lomsnes)
18:55 RD Fisher (Danielson, Topping) PPG
SHOTS - RD 14/27 VAN 7/14

6:59 RD Glackin (Bakke, Mappin)
9:44 VAN Thrower (Carvalho) PPG
SHOTS - RD 8/35 VAN 9/23

SHOTS - RD 11/46 VAN 0/23

2:02 RD Thudium (Lomsnes)*
SHOTS - RD 3/49 VAN 1/24

* Goal was originally credited to Ty Mappin on the scoresheet, but it was indeed Dylan Thudium who scored the goal

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