Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Pats get improved effort, bounces in Game 4 win

WHL Eastern Conference title series with Hurricanes tied 2-2

The Pats celebrate a positive bounce goal from Adam Brooks (#77).
    LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – The Regina Pats came out with a strong effort, and they also received a big positive bounce to regain home ice advantage in the WHL’s Eastern Conference championship series.
    On Wednesday before a packed crowd of 5,203 spectators at the Enmax centre, the Pats were locked in a 2-2 draw with the host Lethbridge Hurricanes late in the second period of Game 4 of the WHL Eastern Conference title series.
    The visitors had the edge in play, but the game was still in the balance.
    With 1:54 to play in the second, Pats captain Adam Brooks sent a centring pass from the right corner boards in the Lethbridge zone across the face the Hurricanes goal.
    The puck deflected off the skate of Hurricanes import defenceman Igor Merezhko into the Lethbridge net to put the Pats ahead 3-2.
    The tally sent the Hurricanes reeling, and the Pats struck again before the second period expired.
Captain Adam Brooks breaks into the offensive zone for the Pats.
    With 43.8 seconds to play in the second, Pats star centre Sam Steel slipped a nice pass from the left corner of the Lethbridge zone to linemate Dawson Leedahl in front of the Lethbridge net. The overage Saskatoon product snipped home a key insurance marker to give the Pats a 4-2 lead.
    Regina cruised to a 6-2 victory from that point to even the best-of-seven series with the Hurricanes at 2-2. Game 5 is set for Friday at 7 p.m. local time in Regina at the Brandt Centre.
    “You get a two-goal lead after two periods, it is big for sure,” said Pats head coach and general manager John Paddock. “Merezhko, it just happened to hit his skate.
    “We got a bounce there. We had the urgency to probably play in their end and deserve it.”
    The Hurricanes tried to fight back in the third, and they outshot the Pats 11-6 in the stanza. With that said, the Pats were playing a more shutdown defensive style of game at that point, and they were content to dump the puck in the defensive zone and trap up the Hurricanes in the centre ice zone.
Pats winger Nick Henry is stopped by Hurricanes goalie Stuart Skinner.
    Still, Regina was opportunistic in the third. At the 7:53 mark of the third, star offensive defenceman Connor Hobbs blasted home a shot from the point to put the visitors up 5-2. Pats centre Wyatt Sloboshan popped home an empty-net goal with 2:56 to play in the third to round out the final score.
    Hurricanes head coach Brent Kisio said Brooks’s lucky goal to make the score 3-2 in the second hurt the Lethbridge side, but the Pats were still putting out the better effort at that point in the contest. Kisio said his club was way better in their 3-1 victory in Game 3 on Tuesday.
Hurricanes centre Dylan Cozens follows his rebound to the net.
    “We were in the game, but we weren’t in the game,” said Kisio. “I don’t think we were playing real hard here or playing the way we had to play to beat them.
    “(Tuesday) night, we played hard. We had our feet moving. Tonight, we just stood around and watched.
    “Give Regina credit, they completely outworked us (and) completely outplayed us today.”
    Pats winger Braydon Buziak had the lone goal in a first period that was very up tempo and had a lot of scoring chances for both sides.
    Dylan Cozens batted home a floating puck in the air for the Hurricanes to tie things up at 1-1 at the 2:21 mark of the second. Pats winger Jeff de Wit put Regina ahead 2-1 at the nine-minute mark of the second.
    The Hurricanes tied things up at 2-2 just 34 seconds later, when centre Ryan Vandervlis flicked home the equalizer close in from the left side of the Regina net.
Winger Jeff de Wit had a goal for the Pats in their Game 4 win.
    Stuart Skinner turned away 28-of-33 shots to take the loss in goal for the Hurricanes. Tyler Brown stopped 24 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Pats.
    During Wednesday’s game, the Pats played with a lot of skill and likely didn’t score on their best setups. They also buzzed in the Lethbridge zone despite missing speedy winger Austin Wagner, who left Game 3 with an injury.
    Steel appreciated the pace his side played at in the Game 4 victory.
    “We played more our style of play,” said Steel, who had two assists in the win. “They played us really hard the first few games, and a big credit to them.
    “It has been a great series so far. Tonight, I think we just found another level and made few more plays.”

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