RED DEER -- In time it could develop into a bitter rivalry. One fanned by the short distance between the two cities and the number of regular-season games scheduled between the two teams.
Last night's encounter between the Edmonton Oil Kings and Red Deer Rebels proved to be an entertaining opening act.
The Oil Kings battled back from a two-goal deficit in the third period to send the game into overtime only to lose 4-3 in a shootout.
"You can't let the first 20 minutes mentally affect our last 20 minutes and we didn't do that," said Oil Kings head coach Steve Pleau. "I think our intensity was so lacking for the first 20 minutes. Red Deer played hard for the whole 60 minutes and we were able to turn it up and were able to scrounge a point out of it."
The game had all the intensity of a slumber-party pillow fight through the first period and a half. There were more hits on the classic rock radio station advertised on the ice at the Enmax Centrium than there were during the game.
That was until Oil Kings winger Karey Pieper ran Rebels defenceman Dallas Jackson into the corner boards from behind. Pieper was assessed two minutes, but it did liven up the game.
"We have to be intense and energetic," Pleau said.
Things heated up from there as Rebels defencemen Luke Egener stepped into Brandon Lockerby at the blue line.
Pieper then drilled another opponent behind the net - this time taking an interference penalty.
From there, the no-hit, shinny game turned physical.
"I think we had a little bit of the bus legs in the first period, but we were able to get going," said Oil Kings forward Brett Breitkreuz. "We took it to them in the third period and we were able to get the point. Any time you can get a point on the road, it's a good thing."
Joel Kot opened the scoring for the Rebels, firing a shot from along the boards that Oil Kings goalie Dalyn Flette - making his regular-season debut - didn't see.
Breitkreuz tied the game in the second when linemate Braeden Adamyk bounced a puck off him in front of the Rebels net.
Tomas Polak restored the Rebels' lead redirecting a Cass Mappin centring pass over Flette. Before the end of the period, Brennen Wray stepped into a shot from just inside the blue line that went in.
In the third, the Oil Kings mounted a charge and appeared to have poked the puck over the line on a mad scramble with just under seven minutes to go. But there is no video review in the WHL and the play was blown dead.
The Oil Kings eventually pulled even on a Brent Raedeke one-timer and a Cameron Cepek rebound goal with 1:10 left.
After a scoreless extra session, Matt Fraser and Jackson converted for the Rebels in the shootout, while Craig McCallum and Raedeke failed to find the net for the Oil Kings.