There was 8:30 left in the game when they started up the bus that would carry the Edmonton Oil Kings across the Saskatchewan border and beyond to Prince Albert.
That was the moment when Carter Smith got his second goal of the game in the final game of his junior career. It proved to be the difference in a 2-1 Red Deer Rebels win at Rexall Place, a difference that forces the Oil Kings to board a bus today for a playoff-making tie-breaker game tomorrow night.
It was a classic win-and-you're-in scenario for Edmonton.
"Well, you can't be afraid to lose," said disappointed head coach Steve Pleau. "If you want to win, you've got to go get it. And we didn't do that."
The back-end of a home and home to close the regular season, it was eerily similar to Saturday's one-goal loss at Red Deer:
1. Oil Kings start the game flat. Check.
2. Kings get the opening goal. Check.
3. Goalie Torrie Jung keeps them in the game, facing a ton of shots. Check.
4. Kings lose by a goal. Check.
"Obviously we wanted to win, but you've got to play that way and we didn't," Pleau said. "I thought we played better than we did (Saturday) ...we still didn't shoot the puck enough."
Asked if he was frustrated with the effort, Jung said yes and no.
"My job is to stop the puck. Yeah, at times we're not going to score goals, we're not going to get the bounces. But my job is to stop the puck whether we're going to get five goals or whether we're going to get one."
The frustration is that the other guys did get a bounce when the Rebels shovelled the puck towards the Edmonton net, and Carter jammed home the third-period winner.
"I didn't look at the replay yet," Jung said, whose best save had come just earlier, stoning Rebels sniper Landon Ferraro off a three-on-one. "Obviously, the puck was behind me. They claim they jammed it in or whatever happened there. It was a lucky break for them ... That's hockey."
There were moments that could have created momentum. It could have been Dowd's first-period goal, Neigum taking one for the team in a beat-down by Rebels defenceman Colin Archer also in the first, or it could have been when the Oil Kings killed off two-straight crosschecking penalties that included a five-on-three stretch.
There were moments that come back to haunt you.
Dowd extending for a loose puck on the next shift after his first-period goal, but firing over the net off-balance. Another later, when Dowd couldn't jam it home popping out from behind the net. Jeff Lee firing one wide late in the third off a partial break.
"There's no use dwelling on this," said Jung. "Regroup, re-focus."
Erase the game. Quickly, if not completely.
"We have to learn something from this game," saidPleau. "But when it comes to breaking things down and on-ice preparation, no, we won't look at this game
"We'll look to the four games we played against P.A."
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The perfect script would have No. 15 score two goals in his last regular-season game as a junior hockey player.
That did happen yesterday at Rexall Place.
In Carter Smith's final game as a Red Deer Rebel - and final game in juniors - the native of Eyebrow, Sask., scored both his team's goals in a 2-1 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings.
The perfect hometown hero story would have been that No. 15 - as in Oil Kings' co-captain Brenden Dowd - would have gotten the two goals, to put himself at 30 for his last season, and to send Edmonton straight to Calgary for the a first-round playoff date.
Dowd does have at least one game left and that's what he was thinking about.
"Lay it on the line," the 20-year-old of tomorrow's tiebreaker in Prince Albert. "We need a whole team, not one individual to do it all. It's got to be team effort
"We've got a young team and us older guys have to settle them down. We have to put this (loss) behind us."
"I don't know if there's ever a script to these things," said Kings GM Bob Green.
"Give Red Deer credit - they wanted to be spoilers and they did a good job of it.
"For us, we've got another chance.
"We've got a day in between, a day to recover a little bit," said Green.
"We have to stay positive. We weren't expected to be in this position but we are. And that's a credit to how these kids have played for us."