While the Rebels may not have brought their “A” game Friday night, it was enough for a 5-3 victory over the Oil Kings.
Byron Froese got the crowd into it 6:32 into the hockey game, putting a shot high over goaltender Jon Groenheyde. Brett Ferguson would wrist one from the top of the circles with 8:40 remaining, and Red Deer had themselves a 2-0 lead. Edmonton would fight back however, as Keegan Lowe blasted one from the slot past Darcy Kuemper with just over 2 minutes remaining in the period. Shots in the first were 14-10 Red Deer.
The Oil Kings would take it to the Rebels in the second, firing 19 shots at goaltender Kuemper, but bulged the mesh only once. On a bizarre play, Kuemper would wrist away a puck that got behind him, only to see Cameron Abney wrist it right back under the goalie.
The third would prove to be entertaining, starting with a nifty drop-pass from Nugent-Hopkins to Kudrna, who then burried one high with 11:40 remaining. Michael St. Croix would reply for the Oil Kings at 11:08, tying it at 3. The back and forth period would continue, and Andrej Kudrna would return the favor sending a nice pass across the ice on a 2 on 1 to a driving Nugent-Hopkins, who made no mistake. The same duo would combine for the insurance marker a minute later, with Nugent-Hopkins finishing the play by putting one low in tight. Shots in the third were 8-6 for Edmonton.
Game 2 goes tomorrow night (7:30, ENMAX Centrium). The debut of the Rebels’ new 50/50 system saw the winner take home over $13000.