The Raiders can take two positives with them from the Red Deer game despite the 6-2 loss to end the six game and nine night road trip.
Seventeen-year-old rookie goalie, Eric Williams, appears ready for prime time and this is a team that sticks up for each other. Williams made 46 saves and was stellar during a two man Rebel power play for a minute and a half in the third. It earned him third star honours from the Red Deer media.
They also proved there is no quit in this club, including a line brawl with two minutes to go in the third period.
The Raiders started strong and opened the scoring at 7:27 of the first, when Austin Bourhis stole the puck deep in the Rebel zone. He fed fellow rookie Mike Winther who roofed a beautiful backhander from the slot. It was much to the delight of the many family and friends among the 4,573 on hand at the Enmax Centrium. Winther is from Trochu, Alberta, about 45 minutes down the road from Rebel land.
The Rebels tied the game just over a minute alter on Adam Kambeitz' first of three goals on the night.
The turning point came early in the second period after Raider veteran defenseman, Ryan Button, came to the defence of Todd Fiddler.
Fiddler was crunched at centre ice by Rebel rookie defenseman Matt Dumba, prompting Button to drop the gloves with Dumba. Button ended up with the extra two minute minor and ten minute misconduct.
Veteran import, Andrej Kuderna, would score on a rebound off the back boards. A little more than two minutes later, Byron Froese would sweep a back door backhand past Williams with Tyler Yaworski in the box for roughing.
Kambeitz would convert a three-way passing play just past the 11 minute mark of the second to give the Rebels a 4-1 lead after two periods. By then Williams had already faced 37 shots.
The Raiders turned it up a notch in the third.
Igor Revenko tapped in a loose puck in the goal mouth to pull the Raiders to within two.
Froese would put the game away just shy of the 17 minute mark with a one-time blast from the circle on another Rebel power play. Kambetiz completed the hat trick moments later.
Then it got feisty.
Tyler Yaworski squared off against big Rebel defenseman, Justin Weller, and it was a heavyweight tilt with both landing big blows. The line brawl erupted just ten seconds into the next shift.
Bourhis flattened a Rebel along the boards in Red Deer territory and then everyone grabbed a dance partner.
The main event saw Harrison Ruopp clean up on Red Deer forward, Lane Schiedl, while Austin Connor got more than a few licks in on Kambeitz.
The game ended with some chirping between both teams, perhaps setting the stage for their next encounter.
However, like losses in Kamloops and Kelowna, penalties sealed their fate.
The Rebels went 3-for-7 on the power play while the Raiders had just one advantage early in the first – curious in a physical game played hard by both teams. However the Raiders "showed up", trying to atone for a poor effort in Prince George the night before followed by a nine hour bus ride which came to an end at 8 a.m. on game day.
The Raiders ended the road trip at 2-3-1 and will open a four game home stand Friday night against former Raider Ryan Harrison and the Medicine Hat Tigers.
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