POW­ER­FUL PRES­ENCE

In­jured Brooks in­valu­able

Regina Leader-Post - - SPORTS - GREG HARDER gharder@postmedia.com

The Regina Pats be­lieve they’re a bet­ter team with Adam Brooks on the bench.

That’s one of the rea­sons head coach/GM John Paddock elected to dress his cap­tain for the fi­nal three games of a sec­ond-round WHL play­off se­ries against the Swift Cur­rent Broncos.

Al­though Brooks didn’t see the ice due to a knee in­jury, Paddock felt his squad would ben­e­fit from the pres­ence of its leader, who is in his fi­nal sea­son of ju­nior el­i­gi­bil­ity.

“That was part of it,” said Paddock, whose team lost Brooks in Game 2 of the se­ries. “He’s a quiet guy but he’s still the voice of the team. He’s held in that kind of re­spect. It was im­por­tant in that way and im­por­tant be­cause, if the worst-case sce­nario hap­pened (and the Pats were elim­i­nated), he was go­ing to be there with his team­mates rather than sit­ting some­where else. There were two or three things that went into it.”

For­tu­nately for Brooks, his WHL ca­reer didn’t come to an end against Swift Cur­rent. Regina won all three games with him on the bench, over­com­ing a 3-1 se­ries deficit.

The Pats may have ben­e­fited from a lit­tle psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare by adding Brooks to their lineup. Even when it be­came clear he wouldn’t be step­ping on the ice, the 20-year-old cen­tre still had a calm­ing in­flu­ence on his team in a pres­sure-filled sit­u­a­tion.

“It was awe­some to have him on the bench,” cen­tre Sam Steel said. “If he can be there and give any sup­port he can, he’s def­i­nitely the kind of guy who would do that. Like John said, he just de­serves to be out there.”

The Pats are hope­ful Brooks can re­turn at some point dur­ing the Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nal against the Lethbridge Hur­ri­canes, al­though that’s far from a cer­tainty.

Asked if Brooks might dress any­way, Paddock was non-committal.

“I’m not sure; I’ll have to talk to him about that,” he said. “It was a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent sce­nario in those three games (against Swift Cur­rent). It’s not do­ing him any harm but we’ll just see where we’re at with the lineup.”

The Pats weren’t hurt by dress­ing Brooks be­cause they mainly used just 10 for­wards. They’ll have to make at least one lineup change in the ab­sence of de­fence­man Daw­son David­son, who suf­fered an undis­closed in­jury in Game 7 against Swift Cur­rent.

Paddock con­firmed David­son would be out “for a while,” which means de­fence­man Jonathan Smart will re­turn to his nat­u­ral po­si­tion af­ter be­ing uti­lized as a for­ward in the playoffs.

“I thought he looked pretty nat­u­ral and nor­mal up front but (de­fence) is the po­si­tion we got him (to play) so it’s up to him to do the job,” said Paddock, who ac­quired the puck-mov­ing de­fender on Nov. 30 from the Kelowna Rock­ets. “Smarty is a good player. We ex­pect the same thing (as David­son). We don’t re­ally ex­pect much to change.”

TROY FLEECE

Adam Brooks dressed for, but did not play in, the team’s last three games against Swift Cur­rent.

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