RED DEER - The Red Deer Rebels advanced to the WHL's East Conference final with a 2-1 victory over the Regina Pats Tuesday evening in Game 7 of their second round WHL series. It was a heart-breaking defeat for the Pats, who came up just short in their bid for a berth in the Conference final for the first time since 1993.
Tuesday's deciding game was nailbitingly-close, tied 0-0 after the opening period and 1-1 after 40 minutes. Red Deer's Adam Helewka and Regina's Adam Brooks each scored in the middle frame but it was Adam Musil's even-strength goal at 12:46 of the third which stood up as the game-winner. The Pats lost sight of a loose puck at the side of their net and Musil drove it home to clinch the win.
It was a tentative first period by both teams with the Rebels outshooting the Pats 12-7. Regina weathered the storm and outshot Red Deer 11-10 in the middle frame and 15-4 in the third but couldn't get enough pucks past Rebels goalie Rylan Toth to turn the tide. Tyler Brown took the loss in the Regina net, making 24 saves.
The Pats outshot the Rebels 33-26 overall while going 0/2 on the powerplay and 2/3 on the penalty kill. The attendance was 6264.
Red Deer now moves on to face the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Conference final beginning Friday night in Westman Communications Group Place.
For the Pats, the loss was obviously a bitter pill to swallow but it capped a remarkable season for the third-youngest team in the WHL. The meat of the team is made up in the 17- and 18-year old age groups and they've gained valuable playoff experience the past two seasons. The future is incredibly bright but it won't include graduating 20-year olds Colby Williams, Cole Sanford and Aaron Macklin who gave their all in Tuesday's Game 7.
All in all, these remain great times to be a Regina Pats fan.
VICTORIA - Calvin Thurkauf scored 5:56 into overtime as the Kelowna Rockets rallied for a 3-2 win over the Victoria Royals on Tuesday in Game 7 of their Western Hockey League playoff series.
Justin Kirkland scored twice for Kelowna, including the tying goal with one second left in the third period.
Tyler Soy and Alex Forsberg scored first-period goals for the Royals.
Rockets goaltender Michael Herringer made 28 saves as his team advanced to Western Conference championship against the Seattle Thunderbirds.
Victoria's Coleman Vollrath stopped 22 shots in defeat.
Kelowna was 0 for 4 on the power play while the Royals scored once on three chances with the man advantage.