Pats look to emulate Spitfires
The Regina Pats don’t have to look far back to find inspiration as they enter the 100th Memorial Cup.
Regina, eliminated in the first round of the Western Hockey League playoffs by eventual champion Swift Current on April 2, opens the Canadian major junior championship on Friday against the Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League.
The Pats will try to emulate what the Windsor Spitfires did last year — claiming Memorial Cup glory after being eliminated in the first round of their league playoffs. Ten teams have won the Memorial Cup as hosts since the tournament’s current four-team format began in 1983.
“Not that we had any doubt, but with Windsor winning it last year, it showed that it can be done,” Regina captain Sam Steel said Thursday.
“We went through a very similar training process, so it’s kind of a confidence booster knowing that.” Regina is hosting the Memorial Cup for a seventh time and is in its 100th season as a franchise. The Pats have won the Canadian Hockey League title four times, most recently in 1974.
The Pats have appeared at the tournament on 16 occasions — the most of any team in CHL history. The last time Regina was the host in 2001, it also lost out in the first round of the WHL playoffs. The Spitfires fell to London in the first round of last year’s OHL playoffs, but used the long layoff to their advantage by going undefeated on home ice at last year’s Memorial Cup.
Pats head coach John Paddock said his team had nine days off following their playoff elimination before going into a threeweek period of hard skating and battling.
Paddock was able to build off the experience of assistant coach Dave Struch, who was Saskatoon’s head coach when the Blades hosted the Memorial Cup in 2013. That Blades team was eliminated in the opening round of the postseason.
“I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way,” Paddock said about preparation plans.
“We did talk to Rocky Thompson (Windsor’s head coach last season) ... and Dave Struch was involved in one, but I don’t think it’s a lot different than anybody else would have done.”
Struch said the training routine he helped Paddock develop is similar to what his team in Saskatoon did along with both Windsor and host Shawinigan in 2012 when the Cataractes won the title.