Seeing his team's desperate need for a spark... The Captain came through.
Depending on what happens moving forward, an argument can be made that Turner Elson's late second period, and eventual game winning, goal versus the Kootenay Ice last night could be a milestone moment in the Rebels season.
With his team limping toward the end of a period in which they were dominated, Elson, gassed after taking a big hit earlier in the shift, beat Mackenzie Skapski with just 27 seconds left before the buzzer.
The goal gave his team a 3-2 lead they would not relinquish. In fact, the goal set the stage for a dominant third period performance by the Rebels in which they outscored Kootenay 3-0 on their way to a 6-2 victory.
Elson's goal, his second of the game and team leading 18th of the season, was without a doubt the turning point in last night's affair. But was it also a turning point in the season?
Time will reveal the answer to that question. We'll definitely get an indication of what that answer might be when the Rebels take on the Hurricanes tonight in Lethbridge.
If they boys come out and play a solid sixty minutes (sorry to sound cliche) and earn the ever-so-important two points, then the goal could very well be a turning point. If the Rebels lay a proverbial egg tonight, then Elson's goal would be but a brief flicker of momentum... time to start over again next game.
Overall, it was fun to watch the Rebels top line of Elson (2G, 1A), Rhyse Dieno (2G, 2A), and Brooks Maxwell (2A) combine for nine points versus Kootenay. Dieno, for my money, is the best free agent acquisition in the WHL this season (33 points in 30 games, can't argue with that kind of success). Plucked from Junior A to add scoring depth, Dieno would be far and away the Rebels team scoring leader had he been here from the start. He'd also be pushing for a top twenty spot in WHL scoring.
A few other observations from last night's game...
- Scott Feser continues to develop well... he showed great patience and skill in setting up Wyatt Johnson and Dominik Volek for quality scoring chances
- Brady Gaudet showed some physical edge with a couple of solid jolts on opponents, good to see
- Didn't mention Mathew Dumba's name too often during last night's broadcast, in which I did an average-at-best job of filling in for colour commentator Mike Moller, but he didn't stand out as being too out of place in his return game from Minnesota
- It's easy to see how the Kootenay Ice have climbed back into the playoff race in the WHL Eastern Conference... had they capitalized on their scoring chances in the opening seconds of the first period, last night's result could have been much different
- Sam Reinhart is a stud, plain and simple... the kid just turned 17 in November, meaning he's not draft eligible until 2014... at this rate, he'll be part of the conversation when it comes to the number one overall draft pick.
A couple of other notes to pass on while I'm thinking about them...
- The Rebels want to hear from Red Deer Rustlers alumni... Saturday, February 23rd will be "Rustler Heritage Night" when the Rebels host Prince Albert... the team will be wearing replica jerseys honouring the team which won the 1980 Centennial Cup (Tournament MVP - Brent Sutter)... the jerseys will be auctioned off in support of the Central Alberta Chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society... Rustlers alumni are encouraged to contact the Rebels office (firstname.lastname@example.org) and be a part of this special event
- The Rebels and Hurricanes are doing battle in support of Canadian Blood Services. "Hockey - It's In Our Blood" is a month-long challenge to see which team can rally up the most blood donations. Rebels fans who donate in February are eligible to win a team autographed Rebels third jersey. For more details, call 1-888-2-DONATE or visit blood.ca