|Pats captain Jake Leschyshyn tries to beat Blades goalie Dorrin Luding.|
Regina’s first line of captain Jake Leschyshyn, left-winger Nick Henry and right-winger Austin Pratt combined for five goals and three assists to help the Pats outgun the visiting Saskatoon Blades 6-5 in a WHL regular season tilt before 5,600 spectators at the Brandt Centre on Saturday night.
That trio didn’t seem to care the Pats are stuck in a rebuilding campaign following a season where the club hosted the Memorial Cup and on the heels of the 2016-17 campaign that saw the team finished first overall in the WHL regular season standings and advanced to the league championship series falling to the Seattle Thunderbirds.
|Captain Jake Leschyshyn had two goals and an assist for the Pats.|
Both have spent their entire WHL playing careers with the Pats. Leschyshyn became a full-time member of the world’s oldest major junior franchise in 2015-16 campaign and Henry came on board during the 2016-17 season. They each had a pair of goals and an assist in Saturday’s win.
It was obvious to see both have a lot emotionally invested in the Regina team with the effort they gave in Saturday’s wild 1980s style high-scoring contest, which saw the starting goalies for both squads get chased from the game.
|LW Nick Henry (#21) had two goals and an assist for the Pats.|
As a unit, they give the Pats enough to potentially play the role of spoiler on any given night. They did just that helping the Pats improve to 5-12 while the Blades fell to 10-7-2.
The Blades struck first at the 3:12 mark of the opening frame with a power-play goal coming from overage right-winger Max Gerlach, who would score twice on the night.
|Austin Pratt had a goal and an assist for the Pats.|
That set the moment for the Pats top line to take centre stage with some third period heroics.
At the 9:03 mark of the third, Pats overage defenceman Aaron Hyman, who had three assists in the win, hit Henry with a breakout pass into the Saskatoon zone. Blazing down the left wing, Henry slipped a pass across the face of the Saskatoon goal to Leschyshyn, who buried a marker that forced a 5-5 tie.
With 4:12 remaining in the third, Henry labeled a shot to the top left corner of the Saskatoon goal on the power play to provide the winning tally for the Pats.
The Blades were 3-for-6 on the power play, while the Pats scored on both their chances with the man advantage.
|Kirby Dach backed the Blades offence with three assists.|
Nolan Maier turned away 5-of-8 shots starting in goal for the Blades before being pulled 31 seconds into the second after the Pats went ahead 3-1. Dorrin Luding stopped 14-of-17 shots in relief and took the loss in goal for Saskatoon.
Max Paddock turned away 21-of-26 shots playing the first 40 minutes of Saturday’s affair in goal for the Pats. Dean McNabb took over at the start of the third period and turned away all six shots he faced to pick up the win in goal for Regina.
The Pats return to action this coming Friday, when they host the Tri-City Americans at 7 p.m. at the Brandt Centre. The Blades next game is also this coming Friday, when they travel to Medicine Hat to face the Tigers.
While the Pats are in a reloading stage, Leschyshyn, Henry and Pratt showed how much of a factor heart can play in the outcome of a WHL game and provided a tough lesson for the Blades to learn in the process.
|The Pats celebrate their victory on Saturday night.|
Going forward, the players on the Blades need to try and match the level of emotional attachment to their team like Leschyshyn, Henry and Pratt have for the Pats.
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