Monday, 17 April 2017

Pats paste Broncos in Game 7

Regina gets rolling early and cruises to 5-1 victory

Goalie Tyler Brown and Austin Wagner embrace after the Pats Game 7 win.
    REGINA – The Regina Pats proved to be too much for the Swift Current Broncos to handle, when it became a winner take all situation.
    On Monday night at the Brandt Centre, the Pats hit stride scoring two goals before Game 7 of their best-of-seven WHL Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Broncos was even five minutes old.  
    With a raucous sellout crowd of 6,484 fans behind them, the Pats steamrolled to a 5-1 victory.
    The win allowed the Pats, who were playing their first Game 7 at home in 45 years, to erase a 3-1 series deficit to win the set 4-3. Regina also advanced to the Eastern Conference championship series for the first time since 1993.
Sam Steel had two big goal for the Pats in Game 7.
    Finishing first overall in the WHL with a 52-12-7-1 record and being rated first in the final Canadian Hockey League top 10 rankings that came out on March 22, the Pats were big favourites to beat the Broncos.
    Swift Current posted a solid 39-23-4-6 record during the regular season and gave the Pats all they could handle.
    When the dust settled, Pats star centre Sam Steel, who paced his side with a pair of goals, was pumped his club pulled off the comeback in the series.
    “We showed a lot of character,” said Steel, who was a first round NHL Entry Draft selection of the Anaheim Ducks last year. “I am really proud of the guys.
    “I don’t think we have a lot of doubt in there. We’re really happy to come out on the right side of this series. You learn that you are never out of it,”
Import winger Filip Ahl (#61) wins a battle in the corner for the Pats.
    Steel struck for his first of the night popping home a rebound from a shot taken by linemate Nick Henry to give the Pats a 1-0 lead just 2:19 into the game. Pats import winger Filip Ahl followed that up with a breakaway goal at the 4:57 mark of the first period to send the Regina faithful into a frenzy and force the Broncos to call a timeout.
    Swift Current did have an opportunity to get back into the contest closing out the final nine minutes of the opening frame with three power-play chances. Pats netminder Tyler Brown stoned Broncos star winger Tyler Steenbergen on a golden opportunity in close and robbed Broncos import rearguard Artyom Minulin with a huge glove save on a rocket shot through a screen from the point.
Rearguard Connor Hobbs had three assists in the Pats win.
    Broncos head coach and director of player personnel Manny Viveiros said his side needed to pick up some traction at that juncture of the contest.
    “I thought if we could have capitalized on a couple of power plays that we had in the first period we could have changed things,” said Viveiros. “We simply just didn’t have it tonight for whatever reason.
    “We just didn’t have the game that we normally have throughout this whole series. Against a team like that which is going like that, you have to be at your best. If you are not at your best, you are not going to win.
    “The momentum was just going, and we just couldn’t get out of it. We dug ourselves out of holes throughout these playoffs, but today, we just couldn’t do it.”
    Shortly before the midway point of the second period, Steel bagged his second marker of the contest swatting home a loose puck in the crease of the Swift Current goal during a net scramble to put the hosts up 3-0. Before the second period ended, Pats speedy winger Austin Wagner tipped home a point shot from star offensive defenceman Connor Hobbs to increase Regina’s edge to 4-0.
Jordan Papirny makes one of his 38 saves in goal for the Broncos.
    With 5:27 remaining in the third period, Broncos centre Conner Chaulk scored on the power play to cut Regina’s lead to 4-1. Swift Current pulled star netminder Jordan Papirny for that power play chance to give the visitors six skaters to go against the Pats four skaters.
    Swift Current had another power-play chance with under five minutes to play and again pulled Papirny, but Wagner ended all hopes of a miracle comeback scoring a short-handed marker into an empty net for his second tally of the night.
    Brown made 23 stops to pick up the win in goal for the Pats. Papirny turned away 38-of-42 shots to take the setback in goal for the Broncos.
Nick Henry picked up an assist for the Pats.
    Hobbs had three assists and was a plus-four in the plus-minus department for the home side.
    Last year, the Pats fell in Game 7 of a WHL Eastern Conference semifinal series 2-1 to the Rebels in Red Deer.
    This year, Brown was proud his team could rally from a 3-1 series deficit and advance to the conference championship series.
    “We knew we weren’t ready to go home yet,” said Brown. “We knew we could do it.
    “We persevered as best we can. It was a real fun series.
    “There was a lot of energy in the building, and that does maybe play a factor in the game. It was real good out there.”
    The Pats will host Game 1 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference championships series on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Brandt Centre. They will face the winner of Game 7 of the other Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Medicine Hat Tigers and Lethbridge Hurricanes.
    The Tigers and Hurricanes go at it in that Game 7 on Tuesday at 7 p.m. local time at the Canalta Centre in Medicine Hat.
    Pats head coach and general manager John Paddock said his team will face a tough opponent in the conference final.
The Pats faithful celebrate during the final seconds of a Game 7 win.
    Looking at what his team accomplished, Paddock did admit it was significant for the Pats to finally go back to the conference championship series for the first time in 24 years.
    “I think for the organization it is important to go for it and have a run when you have an opportunity to,” said Paddock. “The organization probably understands you can’t do this every year, but you don’t fall very far.
    “I think a goal would be for it to be a habit within every three or four years, (or) two or three years to advance and have the seats full.”

Brooks the good luck charm

Injured Pats captain Adam Brooks mans the door on his team’s bench.
    Injured captain Adam Brooks proved to be a good-luck charm for the Pats.
    The overage Winnipeg product suffered a knee injury in the Pats win in Game 2 over the Broncos. With Regina trailing Swift Current 3-1 in the best-of-seven set, Brooks dressed for the final three games of the series, but he didn’t see any on ice action.
    With Brooks as a cheerleader and door bench opener, the Pats won three straight with him on the bench. Due to the fact Brooks is in his final season of major junior eligibility, Pats head coach and general manager John Paddock felt Brooks deserved to be in uniform, if the Pats were eliminated.
    The gesture was a classy one by Paddock towards one of the team’s heart-and-soul members for the past five seasons. In five complete WHL campaigns, Brooks appeared in 317 regular season games collecting 119 goals, 216 assists and a plus-89 rating in the plus-minus department.
    Brooks has 14 goals, 26 assists and a plus-11 rating in 34 post-season games. The playoff games played total includes the three outing Brooks dressed, but didn’t see the ice.
    With the Pats and Broncos often cutting down to three forward lines during their series, it didn’t hurt to have Brooks just hanging out on the bench with what is basically a spare parts fourth line.
    On the superstition side, the Pats are winning when Brooks is on the bench, so they might as well keep doing it.
    Now that Regina has advanced, it is possible Brooks might return at some point in the Eastern Conference championship series.

Regina should be blue, white and red

It would be cool if Regina was painted more in Pats colours.
    With the Pats creating a lot of excitement with their post-season runs over the last three years, you would think the team’s colours would be all over the place in Regina.
    Outside of a sprinkling of signs, that isn’t the case. Actually, you don’t see a lot of people out and about wearing Pats merchandise like you do the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders.
    Pretty much the only place you can purchase Pats merchandise or clothing is at the Pats store at the Brandt Centre.
    The team, which has sold out 20 games between the regular season and playoffs, has a lot of good gear at its store.
    Due to business hang ups, I can see the problem with red tape in getting Pats gear out to local stores.
    Still with how popular the Pats are in Saskatchewan’s capital city, it would be nice if the town was painted blue, white and red.

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