Pats, the East favourites, act­ing like fat cats

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - Sports - By Doug McConachie

The Regina Pats are britches are too big.

“We think we’re too good,” vet­eran cen­tre Gar­rett Fester­ling told the Regina Lead­er­Post af­ter the Medicine Hat Tigers man­han­dled their hosts 5-2 Wed­nes­day. It was Regina’s sec­ond straight loss at home and third in four games. The slide started with a 2-1 loss to the Saskatoon Blades.

The Pats hope to ex­act re­venge tonight when they square off with the Blades at Credit Union Cen­tre, but they’re up against a team that is in stark con­trast to Regina. The Blades are loosey-goosey,



Pats (2-3) vs. Blades (2-2) 7 p.m. tonight Credit Union Cen­tre HOT 93 FM

their ros­ter fi­nally set and are ev­ery ap­pear­ance ev­ery­one is fun.

Al­though Regina is sup­posed to be the team to beat in the WHL East­ern Di­vi­sion, goal­tender David Reekie hasn’t put up the num­bers and on of­fence only rookie Derek Hu­lak is putting the puck in the net with reg­u­lar­ity. Hu­lak, 17, who played midget with the Saskatoon Con­tacts, has five goals in five games. giv­ing hav­ing Reekie, a for­mer Saskatoon Blazer, has won only once in four starts, with a 3.27 goals-against av­er­age and a un­spec­tac­u­lar .862 save per­cent­age.

“We’ve read too many press clip­pings,” said Pats head coach Cur­tis Hunt.

Last sea­son the team worked hard and was re­warded with 40 wins. This year the play­ers think “we’re the mighty Pats. It’s a mind­set thing. We have to change that mind­set.”

Therein lies the ma­jor dif­fer­ence be­tween the Pats and the Blades.

Saskatoon (2-2) is tak­ing noth­ing for granted, says head coach Lorne Molleken. Half the team are first-year Blades, and while mis­takes are be­ing made, he says the play­ers are learn­ing.

The club showed sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments on spe­cialty teams Tues­day in a 5-3 loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Blades moved the puck crisply on the power play and showed con­sid­er­ably more poise than in the first three games, scor­ing power-play goals on their first two chances and fin­ish­ing the night 2for-4 with the man ad­van­tage.

They pulled goal­tender Blaine Neufeld in the fi­nal minute and with six at­tack­ers, scored their third marker.

On the penalty kill, the Blades gave up goals to Medicine Hat on its first two power plays, but shut down the Tigers on three other chances, in­clud­ing a twoman ad­van­tage for 1:27.

“I’m re­ally proud . .



worked hard,” said Rob Trum­b­ley, who coaches the Blades’ penalty-killing unit. “It isn’t a glam­orous job . . . you’ve got to bat­tle, get into (their) shoot­ing lanes . . . and put your body on the line.”

BLADE BITS: The Blades are 5-for27 on the power play (18.5 per cent), while Regina is 8-for-45 (17.8 per cent). On the penalty kill, Regina is 32-for-40 (80 per cent), while the Blades are 27for-35 (77 per cent) . . . Blades net­min­der Braden Holtby, who could get the start tonight, has a 3.01 GAA and a .917 save per­cent­age in three games . . . Saskatoon is at home Wed­nes­day as the Koote­nay Ice make their first of two vis­its.

dm­c­[email protected]

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