Sid­away zooms into Pats’ lineup

Regina Leader-Post - - FRONT PAGE - GREG HARDER gharder@post­media.com

Tan­ner Sid­away’s speed im­pressed the Regina Pats be­fore he even stepped on the ice.

Af­ter his mid-week ac­qui­si­tion from the Koote­nay Ice, Sid­away wasted no time jump­ing in his ve­hi­cle and mak­ing the nine-hour trek to Regina. The 18-year-old for­ward ar­rived at about 2:30 p.m. on Wed­nes­day — just in time to dress against the Saska­toon Blades.

“I was speed­ing a lit­tle bit,” he ad­mit­ted with a smile. “I was just ex­cited to play. I thought it was a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity so I packed every­thing up, said my good­byes and hit the road.”

Sid­away’s early ar­rival was a sur­prise to head coach/GM John Pad­dock, who com­pleted the deal late Tues­day af­ter­noon. Regina sent veteran for­ward Jeff de Wit to the Ice for Sid­away and a sev­enth-round ban­tam pick in 2018.

“I didn’t re­ally ex­pect him to play,” said Pad­dock. “I thought he was go­ing to get here at five or six o’clock. He ob­vi­ously wanted to get here and play.”

Fu­elled by adrenalin, Sid­away re­lied mostly on in­stinct in his Pats’ de­but. He was also ea­ger to prove he be­longs with the 2018 Me­mo­rial Cup hosts.

“It’s sur­real to be in this po­si­tion right now,” he said af­ter Wed­nes­day’s game — a 6-4 loss to the Blades. “It was pretty nerve-rack­ing but I also had a lot of en­ergy. I’m not used to all the fans and every­thing so I had a lot of things to look for­ward to. It was re­ally nice to just get right on the ice and not have a wait.

“It was a tough loss but I feel like this is where I be­long. Once I learn all the plays and we start get­ting more time in, I think we’re go­ing to be a re­ally good team.”

Sid­away is known as a hard worker and a strong skater who should add a phys­i­cal el­e­ment to the bot­tom por­tion of Regina’s lineup.

It’s a dirty job but some­body has to do it.

“I’ll be that en­ergy guy to go out there and fight or score a greasy goal or some­thing like that to get ev­ery­one go­ing,” said the 6-foot0, 181-pounder, who had one goal and one as­sist in five games with Koote­nay this sea­son. “You can’t have a whole team full of goal scor­ers. You need dif­fer­ent pieces so every­thing fits to­gether prop­erly. That’s a win­ning team.”

Pad­dock felt the Pats needed a player like Sid­away, who has the abil­ity to cause havoc on the forecheck.

“We don’t be­lieve we’re fast enough at this point,” said Pad­dock. “He brings that to the game — good speed, fin­ish­ing some checks.”

Sid­away fills a hole left by de Wit, who’s not the fastest skater but had the size and skill to play a power-for­ward role. The for­mer first-round ban­tam pick showed flashes af­ter he was ac­quired from Red Deer last sea­son but never quite found his stride.

“Jeff is a good guy,” said Pad­dock. “I think he wants (to do) the right things. There were just in­con­sis­ten­cies — highs and lows to his game. He would go from scor­ing a big goal and mov­ing up in the lineup to me not play­ing him af­ter a pe­riod. It just wasn’t steady play. That’s what we needed from a 19-year-old player.”

NOTE: The Pats have part­nered with the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame to dis­play pieces from their archival col­lec­tion. An ex­hibit has also been set up in the north cor­ri­dor of the Brandt Cen­tre fea­tur­ing 10 seg­ments of the club’s 100-year his­tory.

KEITH HERSHMILLER/HERSHMILLER PHOTOGRAPHY

Tan­ner Sid­away made his de­but with the Regina Pats on Wed­nes­day against the Saska­toon Blades. His early ar­rival was a sur­prise to head coach/GM John Pad­dock.

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