RED DEER -- Thanks to future Calgary Flame Dion Phaneuf, the Calgary Hitmen's first-round playoff opponent won't be known until today. The blueliner unleashed a cannon 2:20 into overtime to stake his Red Deer Rebels to a 4-3 win over the Hitmen at a jam-packed Enmax Centrium.
With the loss, the Hitmen (34-23-9-6) wrap up the season on a losing note and must wait and see what happens this afternoon between Lethbridge and Red Deer, which trails Calgary by a point for third in the Central Division.
If the Hurricanes win, they'll keep Red Deer fourth in the division and play the Hitmen to open the WHL post-season starting Friday.
But if Red Deer (36-25-6-4) wins, the Rebels will move up a point on Calgary. The Hitmen would then take on the defending WHL champion Medicine Hat Tigers in the first round beginning Saturday.
Hitmen captain Ryan Getzlaf was disappointed his club didn't lock up third place last night.
"We always like to have control of our own destiny. I thought we battled hard tonight but the bounces didn't go our way," said Getzlaf, who had a goal and an assist.
"We feel pretty confident going into the playoffs no matter who we play.
"It's going to be a battle whether we play Lethbridge or Medicine Hat anyway, so we'll see what happens and see who we're going to play."
Calgary bench boss Kelly Kisio said the goal is to finish ahead of the Rebels.
"At least we've got another hope of finishing third and we hope Lethbridge plays as hard as they can, so we'll see," said Kisio, whose club hasn't advanced past the first round in four years.
Kisio was angry over a third-period obstruction-holding call against Shaun Landolt that led to the Rebel's Joel Henituik getting his second of the night at 13:43 that knotted the game 3-3, sending it into overtime.
"In games like this," Kisio said, "there was a lot of stuff going on earlier that we questioned. Now you get that call at the end. Instead of letting the kids settle the game at the end, the ref gets involved."
Henituik's backhand slapper from the slot opened the scoring at 1:48 of the first.
The Hitmen replied three minutes later after some good work in the corner by Getzlaf and Andrew Ladd, who set up an uncovered Landolt in front.
Calgary made it 2-1 on Getzlaf's 29th of the season at 7:09, after the Hitmen captain took a pass from the red-hot Landolt.
But the Rebels evened it up at 12:21 when Ashton Rome banged home the rebound on a shot from Jordan Knackstedt.
Brodie Dupont put the Hitmen up 3-2 at 1:35 of the second, burying a powerplay goal from his knees.
The final frame started out as good one for the Hitmen, who didn't allow the Rebels a shot on goal until the 9:32 mark.
- - -
RED DEER REBELS: 4
CALGARY HITMEN: 3