It’s the night the Rebels, and their loyal fans, had been waiting a long time for. A chance to turn the page on a very long, difficult, injury-riddles 2011-2012 season. And what better way to get things going than by taking on one of their arch rivals, the Calgary Hitmen, in their home opener.
The Hitmen came out quick, recording the first six shots on goal, but it was the Rebels who would open the scoring in this one. A turnover at the Calgary blue line allowed Turner Elson to set up Colten Mayor. He beat Hitmen goalie Chris Driedger with gloveside wrister to kick start the hometown fans and give the Rebels a 1-0 lead at 6:54 of the first period.
The lid came off the Enmax Centrium a few minutes later when Mathew Dumba lit up Joe Kornelson with a massive open ice hit at the Rebels blue line. Unfortunately, Dumba was assessed a five minute major penalty for checking to the head and a game misconduct. He also incurred a second major penalty after dropping the mitts with Darian Henry, who took obvious offense to the huge hit on his Hitmen teammate.
Calgary would take full advantage of their five minute powerplay. Cody Sylvester would score with just 29 seconds left in the opening period to tie the game 1-1. Brady Brassart and Pavlo Padakin with the assists. Shots in the first period were 19-11 in favour of Calgary.
With Dumba’s penalty still on the clock to start the second period, Sylvester struck again to give the Hitmen their first lead of the night. Brooks Macek and Chase Clayton assisted on the goal which came just 39 seconds into the middle frame.
Another Rebels penalty, another Hitmen goal. With Turner Elson in the sin bin for tripping, Brady Brassart would put one past Patrik Bartosak. Cody Sylvester, with his third point of the game, and Zane Jones with the assists. 3-1 Calgary at 6:44 period two. The Hitmen would take their two goal lead into the final period.
The Rebels would get a powerplay of their own as they sought to overcome their deficit. In fact, the Rebels found themselves with a pair of man advantages but would come up empty.
In the final minute of the third period... Turner Elson gave the Rebels a glimmer of hope with his first goal of the season. 3-2 Calgary with 46.5 seconds remaining. After a Calgary penalty, the Rebels would get two faceoffs deep in Hitmen territory but to no avail. Final score - Hitmen 3, Rebels 2. Final shots on net were 34-27 favouring Calgary.
MOLSON CUP THREE STARS
1. Cody Sylvester CGY
2. Patrik Bartosak RD
3. Brady Brassart CGY
Next game... the Rebels visit the reigning WHL Champion Edmonton Oil Kings on Sunday afternoon. Game time from Rexall Place is 2pm. Cam Moon will be on with the pregame show on 106.7 The Drive starting at 1:50pm.