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Memorial Cup: Rebels eliminate the Wheat Kings and book a berth in the semi-finals

By beating Brandon by a score of 2-1 in OT, the Red Deer Rebels have knocked out the Wheat Kings from the 2016 Memorial Cup.

Red Deer Rebels Evan Polei celebrates his overtime game-winning goal while members of the Brandon Wheat Kings look on.
Red Deer Rebels Evan Polei celebrates his overtime game-winning goal while members of the Brandon Wheat Kings look on.
Rob Wallator/CHL Images

Dub hockey is fun to watch and there is no other way to put it.

For the first time since April 29th, the Red Deer Rebels and Brandon Wheat Kings played against each other and man, did they ever put on a show.

"It was a real tight checking game, there wasn't much space out there," said Rebels Head Coach Brent Sutter. "We kept pushing and pushing to get that tying goal.

"Our team is different now than it was four weeks ago just having everyone healthy and back in the lineup for the first time since game two of the regular season."

Despite the fact it was a 2-1 game, it was easily the best of the entire tournament. With everything on the line, players from both teams showed no fear in leaving everything they had on the ice.

The first goal of the game came much later than we are used to as Tim McGauley scored 11:26 into the second period. McGauley's goal gave Brandon lots of life and the two teams exchanged chances all night. However that changed in the the last 13 minutes of the third period.

The best efforts of the Brandon Wheat Kings weren't good enough and the Red Deer Rebels put seven shots on Jordan Papirny in seven minutes before Adam Musil finally was able to get by the goaltender.

The push from the Rebels paid off, as the game was sent to overtime.  All it took was a mere 3:50 before Evan Polei scored his second goal of the tournament, and the first OT goal of his career.

"You can’t even describe it," Polei said. "We lost five games to those guys.

"For them to come into this tournament and lose all three, and we’re the ones to send them home, it’s an absolutely great feeling."

After the game, Jake DeBrusk joked with reporters saying that Evan Polei had actually called his own goal in the intermission prior to overtime:

"We were joking around in the room [about who was going to score in OT], we sit beside each other," said Jake DeBrusk. "He actually was like 'I'm going to bet money I'm gonna score a goal' and I just thought he was kidding.

"Looks what happens, he scores a goal."

Like the rest of his teammates, DeBrusk was loose after the game. After being eliminated by the Wheat Kings in the Western Hockey League playoffs, last night's win will be a big boost for the Rebels moving forward.

Next up they play the Canadian Hockey League's top-ranked Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, a team they beat 5-2 in round-robin play, Friday night at 6:00 pm. The winner of Friday's matchup will play the London Knights in the Memorial Cup Championship on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 PM.

Following last night's game, I joined Moose Jaw Times-Herald sports writer Lucas Punkari's Bagskate Podcast to talk about what went wrong for the Brandon Wheat Kings, and what went right for the Red Deer Rebels.

I am credentialed and covering the 2016 Memorial Cup in Red Deer. You can follow me on twitter here for live updates from all this year's games.

My work at this year's Memorial Cup:
Knights surge past the Rebels 6-2 in the tournament's opening game - Beer League Heroes, May 21.
Conner Bleackley shines in first game in over two months - Copper and Blue, May 21.
Should the Oilers be looking at drafting Kale Clague? - Beer League Heroes, May 22.
Top lines from the Knights and Rebels dominate at the Memorial Cup - Copper and Blue, May 23.
Rebels top line of Helewka, Philp and DeBrusk lead the host squad to a 5-2 victory over the Huskies - Beer League Heroes, May 23.
Wheat Kings dethroned in "disappointing" loss to the Knights - Copper and Blue, May 24.
Tyler Parsons shines as Knights beat Huskies 5-2 to book berth into Memorial Cup final - Beer League Heroes, May 25.