The Rebels bus drive last night to the Revolution Ice Centre was significantly faster this time then it was for the previous Friday night game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. The bus drive itself became a metaphor for the game. It was an extremely fast in terms of time (two hours) and pace. In the end, the Rebels used outstanding defensive play and three goals in the third period to defeat the Knights 5 – 1.
The first period went by very fast. There were very little stoppages and hardly any shots on goal. Then with almost six minutes remaining in the period, Drew Blackmun brought the puck out of his defensive zone and passed it to Dom Garcia who was trying to enter the offensive zone. A Knights defenseman stood his ground and brought Garcia down to the ice. As Garcia was falling he passed the puck to a trailing Ryan Solomon on the far side boards. Solomon accepted the passed and walked in on Knights goaltender Colt Hanks and beat him short side to put the Rebels up 1 – 0 at the 13:46 mark of the opening period.
Throughout the course of the game the Rebels were exceptionally sound defensively, except one time and it cost them a goal. With time winding down in the first and the Knights breaking out of their zone, the Rebels were slow to attack when Khristian Acosta brought the puck through the neutral zone. He then displayed a burst of speed and went around a Rebels defenseman and walked in on Markes Mitens and beat him long side to tie the game at one with 1:15 left in the period. When the first period concluded tied at one, there were only thirteen shots on goal (seven for the Rebels and six for the Knights).
The second period was as equally as fast as the first. The Knights Andrew Jackson was called for boarding at 10:18. Twenty two seconds later the game changed. With the Rebels on the power play, Gvido Jansons had the puck at the top of the near side face off circle. He passed it back to Brennan Kapcheck at the point. Kapcheck looked left at the point and passed it along side to Andreas Maier. The right-handed shot Maier took a blast from the point and the puck went bar down into the net to give the Rebels a 2 – 1.
Learning from the mistakes the Rebels had made from the last time these two teams met, the Rebels played shut down defense in the third period. There were limited turnovers and the team pressured and played aggressively in the offensive zone and backchecked entering into their own zone. At the 9:37 mark of the third Carter Woolley had the puck behind the Knights net. He passed it to his right up to Andrew Bellant who was at the faceoff circle. Bellant took a shot that was redirected by Ryan Patrick past Hanks to give the Rebels a 3 – 1 lead.
Four minutes later almost the same goal scoring scenario played out. Blackmun had the puck down low. He passed it to Evgeny Yakovlev at the bottom of the circle. Yakovlev took a shot that was redirected by Gianluca Esteves into the Knights net giving the Rebels a 4 – 1 with six minutes remaining in the game. Quite honestly, the score would have been worse but Hanks, who played exceptionally well throughout the game, made several key saves to keep the Knights in the game.
With time winding down in the third, Knights coach Tom Kowl pulled Hanks for the extra attacker. With the Knights in the Rebels zone, Bellant intercepted a pass and lobbed the puck into the Knights zone and the puck hit the puck. With the puck deep inside the Knights zone, the Rebels were able to change defensive units. As the Knights brought the puck into the Rebels zone, Garcia stripped a Knights forward of the puck and gave it to Solomon. Solomon passed it to Blackmun who shot it into the empty net for the Rebels fifth and final goal.
Despite only seeing fourteen shots, Mitens had to make a few key saves (13 in all) to keep the Rebels in the game. Hanks would go onto save 25 of 29 shots. Click here for the box score.
The two teams are back at it tonight at the Revolution Ice Center at 7:30pm.