A three-point effort from captain Conner Bleackley paced the Red Deer Rebels to a 7-1 victory over the Kootenay ICE in Red Deer Saturday.
Bleackley, making his return to the Rebels lineup after attending Colorado Avalanche Training Camp, set up the eventual game-winning goal, and scored in the dying seconds of the opening frame as Red Deer evened the season series with the ICE at one game apiece.
The hosts burst out of the gate, firing 18 first-period shots at Kootenay goaltender Wyatt Hoflin, and scoring twice in the opening four minutes thanks to Grayson Pawlenchuk and Meyer Nell.
Bleackley upped the score to 3-0 with only five seconds remaining in the period when, after a Red Deer faceoff win, he rifled a snap shot home from the high slot.
The two sides traded chances in period two, but there was no further scoring until centreman Preston Kopeck put home a power-play goal 80 seconds into the third period.
Wyatt Johnson added a fifth Rebel goal from just beside Hoflin's right post 2:32 later.
The ICE would earn their first power-play of the game minutes later, but upon returning to play Red Deer forward Scott Feser received a breakaway pass and scored the Rebels' sixth goal of the evening, freezing first-year netminder Keelan Williams on the clear-cut chance.
The ICE broke rookie Rylan Toth's shutout bid with 12:38 remaining in regulation on forward Kyle O'Connor's first goal of the year. The Calgarian fired home a one-timer from the low slot after linemate Ryan Chynoweth stripped a Red Deer defenseman of the puck to the left of Toth's cage.
Kopeck rounded out the scoring less than a minute later with a solo short-handed effort.
Toth made 17 saves to earn his second victory of the season, while Hoflin made 26 stops in the ICE goal. Williams made his first regular-season WHL appearance in relief, turning aside 7 shots in 14:45 of action.
HADDAD FINANCIAL SERVICES 3 STARS:
1. Preston Kopeck, Red Deer
2. Conner Bleackley, Red Deer
3. Evan Polei, Red Deer
UP NEXT: The ICE return home for the 2014-15 Home Opener Friday, October 3rd against the Spokane Chiefs. Game time is 7:00 pm at Western Financial Place.
From Chris Wahl ... http://www.kootenayice.net/article/rebels-even-season-series-with-ice