Trying to play spoiler in a spoiled season
Regina Pats finish off a rotten WHL campaign
The WHL’s Regina Pats were hoping to give their hometown fans one final win last Friday night, but Brayden Schenn had other ideas.
Schenn, along with the Saskatoon Blades, made the trip to the Brandt Centre for Game 1 of a weekend home-and-home series. Friday’s contest also marked the final home game for the Blue and White, with everyone hungry for a win.
Surprisingly, Regina got off to a great start and, even though both teams remained scoreless after two periods, Regina was outshooting Saskatoon 22-12 after 40 minutes of play.
Regina was able to strike first, as Jordan Weal plotted his 41st goal of the season roughly five minutes into the final frame. Weal appeared to have the hot stick once again, as he sniped his 42nd goal just four minutes later.
With the Pats up by two with seven minutes left in the game, it looked like they may actually pull off the upset and send the home fans away happy, but the top team in the WHL was far from done.
Three minutes after Weal’s second goal, the Pats got into penalty trouble – a situation with almost guaranteed dire consequences when you’re up against the Blades.
Not only did the Pats register one penalty, but they gave the Blades a 5-3 advantage after a checking-from-behind call sent yet another Pats player to the penalty box.
The Pats were able to kill off the first penalty, and came close to killing off the second as well, but with 16 seconds left Brett Stovin found the back of the net for the Blades, cutting Regina’s lead to one.
With just over two minutes left in the game, the Pats received another untimely penalty, sending the Blades back on the power-play.
Josh Nicholls netted another power-play marker to even things up when he tipped in Schenn’s point shot with mere minutes left in the game.
As the final buzzer went, the two teams were deadlocked at two goals apiece, sending the game to overtime.
Superstar Schenn put the nail in the Pats’ coffin as he scored a goal top shelf with just over a minute left in the extra frame. Pats players and fans went away unhappy, but this situation is nothing new.
This game quickly went from hopeful to disappointing, similar to how the Pats’ entire season has been.
The Pats have been out of the running for quite some time, and were mathematically eliminated after back-to-back losses to highway rivals the Moose Jaw Warriors early in the month. Of course, this means that the Pats’ streak of missing the playoffs has grown to three years, not exactly something to be proud of.
Looks like the early predictions were right and the Pats will be forced to chalk this season up as a rebuilding year.
It isn’t that the Pats do not have the talent to be able to step above the basement team level: Weal is fifth in the league in overall scoring and first for assists, while captain Garret Mitchell just signed a three-year deal with the Washington Capitals.
Had Pats general manager Chad Lang not made some of his interesting trades before the Christmas break, it is possible that the Pats could have cracked the top eight and made the playoffs. But instead, they will have a long summer to think about their disappointing season once again.
It’s something that fans and players seem to be getting used to. The Pats not making the playoffs is basically expected until something drastically changes in the dressing room.
The Pats were back in action on Saturday night, when they were hoping to play spoiler for the Blades in Saskatoon’s last home game of the season. The Pats dropped their last game of the season by a score of 4-2.