Regina Pats season starting

A jersey with the Regina Pats logo. Wikipedia Commons

Time to hit the ice

What has been a lengthy wait for many is now a reality. The Regina Pats season has been going ahead with regards to the WHL’s shortened season. The Pats are officially beginning play on March 12 against the Prince Albert Raiders. Local hockey fans are sure to be excited about the development as the COVID-19 pandemic has left the community without sports for some time.

With the Regina Pats getting their East Division start times, other teams have also received their starting dates (some having already started as early as February 26) with regards to the Central Division, The B.C. Division, and the U.S. Division. In total, the WHL season will include 24 games. All games for the East Division will be played in the Brandt Centre.

For those curious about the Pats competition, the East Division is made up of the following teams: The Winnipeg Ice, the Brandon Wheat Kings, the Moose Jaw Warriors, the Saskatoon Blades, the Swift Current Broncos, and, as mentioned above, the Prince Albert Raiders.

As far as assessments go for how this season will fare for the Regina Pats (going back to the cancelled 2019-2020 season as a referral), it will be an uphill battle for the team. The Raiders, the Ice, the Wheat Kings and the Blades all had playoff positions before the pandemic resulted in the shutdown of the league. As well, going back to the 2018-2019 season, the Prince Albert Raiders had won the championship title against the Vancouver Giants.

The Pats record for the 2019-2020 season did place them above the Warriors and Broncos, but, as with any struggling team in any league, more work will need to be done to get to the postseason marker. The Pats last postseason appearance was during that of the 2017-2018 season where, interestingly enough, the Swift Current Broncos would end up winning the WHL championship.

The last time the Regina Pats won the championship for themselves was back during the 1979-1980 season. Doug Wickenheiser was the most valuable player that year and made an impact in the NHL soon after being drafted first overall by the Montreal Canadians.

Postseason struggles and Pats history aside, the return of WHL hockey should be the biggest take away here. Now, moving forward, player and personal safety is top priority as things start rolling. Looking at the NHL’s COVID-19 list, mismanaging this return to play and compromising the league to the degree that occurred at the national level is simply an unacceptable result.

For now though, fans of the Pats can eagerly await the days ahead as they will be able to see the team hit the ice for the first time since March 11 of last year. Regardless of their results, it’ll be nice to just have the game of hockey come back at the local level here in the Queen City. Of course, at the same time, here’s hoping that the team will surge during the shortened season and make for an interesting watch.

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