Evgeny Yakovlev scored with 2:43 left in overtime to give the Rebels a 2 – 1 win over the Aberdeen Wings and send the Rebels to the North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup finals tomorrow against the Lone Star Brahmas. It will be the first time in the team’s young history that it has reached the National Championship game.
After a scoreless first period that produced a total of ten shots, the Wings got on the board first at the 2:52 mark of the second period. After a faceoff outside the Wings zone, an Aberdeen defenseman dumped the puck into the Rebels zone. The puck went around the net and up the far side boards where a battle ensued. Carson Dimoff would get the puck and pass it down to Kevin Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald would come behind the Rebels net on a wrap around and beat Mareks Mitens up high to give the Wings a 1 – 0 lead. It was Fitzgerald’s fifth goal of the playoffs.
Despite starting the third period down by one and their season on the line, the Rebels came out hungry. The Rebels would tie it just fifty-three seconds in the final period on Gianluca Esteves’ fifth goal of the playoffs. Brennan Kapcheck would dump the puck into the Wings zone where Esteves would retrieve it behind Aberdeen’s net. He passed it up to the near side faceoff circle to Aaron Maguyon who passed it back to Ryan Solomon. Maguyon would make a cross-ice pass back to Michael Underwood. Underwood would take a shot that was redirected by Esteves past Wings goalie Forbes Ploszaj to make it a 1 to 1 game.
The Rebels would then start to control the flow of the game. They came close to adding a second goal but Ploszaj had to make several key saves to keep the game tied and send it into overtime for the second straight day.
While the Wings had some changes in the third that were thwarted by Mitens, the Rebels dominated the overtime. Then Kapcheck would start the play at his own goal line. He passed the puck up along the near side boards to Esteves who brought the puck into the Wings zone. Esteves made a drop pass back to Maguyon. The Galloway, NJ native passed it back to a trailing Yakovlev. Yakovlev would make a cross-ice pass back to Gvido Jansons at the point. Jansons would pass it over to Solomon. Solomon would take a shot that was saved by Ploszaj but the deep rebound came out to Yakovlev who put it into an open net to give the Rebels a two-games to one series win over the Wings.
Mitens turned aside 23 of 24 shots while Ploszaj stopped 33 of 35 shots. Click here for the box score.
The Rebels will now face the Lone Star Brahmas tomorrow at 2:00pm ET in a winner take all for the NAHL’s Robertson Cup.
Photo Credit: The Rebels would like to thank John Elftmann for providing photos of today’s game.