Regina Pats playoff hopes are already in jeopardy

What the Puck?
Autumn McDowell

Sports Editor

After bringing Regina WHL playoff action last season for the first time in three years, it appears the Regina Pats may be forced to sit this one out.

While it may be a little early to speculate about possible regular season exits and extended summers, for the Pats, it’s never too early. Especially this year, for a team that has been plagued with injuries and illnesses all year, fans are already starting to worry – and rightfully so.

After enjoying a five-game winning streak that span from Dec. 29-Jan. 6, the Pats have since turned the tables and are currently spinning their tires, trying desperately to get out of a seven-game losing skid.

One of the things saving the Pats playoff hopes is that they still have 24 games left to play in the regular season. But, even with plenty of points still up for grabs, the Pats have the disadvantage of being eight points back of the Saskatoon Blades for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Greg Harder, Regina Pats beat writer for the Leader-post, recently pointed out in his article on Jan. 25 that the Pats have the benefit of a “favourable schedule” facing either the Moose Jaw Warriors or Brandon Wheat Kings in four of their next 10 games – two teams that Harder boasts are below them in the standings.

While this may be true, Harder fails to mention that Moose Jaw is actually tied with the Pats in points and Brandon is just one point back of them both, making these contests much more difficult to win than Harder makes it seem.

Although the Pats will have home-ice advantage for seven of their next 10 games, with no swamp donkey to speak of in the Eastern Conference, there will be no easy victories for this up-and-down team.

Unfortunately for Pats fans, the immediate future is looking grim for this inconsistent team. To make matters worse, the Pats recently lost their captain, Colton Jobke, to a knee injury, which could place him on the sidelines for the next month.

Although the Pats were without Jobke for an extended period of time earlier this season when a skate blade partially cut three tendons in his hand, his veteran presence on the ice cannot be replaced, and by the time he is ready to suit up again, it may be too late.

This situation is all too familiar for Pats fans. With the exception of last year, for three previous years fans were subject to down-to-the-wire finishes only to barely miss the playoffs or be mathematically eliminated with regular season games still remaining in the season, two scenarios this years squad is hoping to avoid.

Should the Pats persevere and go on a playoff run that could be described as a modern miracle, only after head coach Pat Conacher skates the boys until they puke, I will proudly sport my Pats gear to school.

However, should the Pats have an untimely exit from the regular season, I would hang my head in shame, as that would be a terrible thing.

In other Pats news, Feb. 1 has been deemed “yearbook night”, during which the first 4,500 fans will receive a free Pats yearbook, aka every fan in attendance will receive one and they will still have over 1,000 extras. That is all.

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