East Division recap

 

Two pennants and a record: good week for the Pats

The Regina Pats couldn’t have asked for a much better week.

After snapping a four-game losing streak, the Pats have now won six straight games and have done so in style. They began their week by ending the Moose Jaw Warriors winning run with a 5-0 win at home to clinch the East Division title.

By time the week ended the Pats had won four games, clinched the Western Hockey League’s regular season title for the second time and set a franchise record after winning their 50th game.

Adam Brooks of the Regina Pats.

With four games in five night, Pats GM/head coach John Paddock said their focus was on wrapping up the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy and not looking too far beyond that.

While they met a lot of pre-season goals in rapid succession, Pats captain Adam Brooks was equally pleased to see them back to playing at the high standard they set all season.

“We had four losses in a row, which wasn’t very pretty for this hockey club. As much as it sucks to say, I think it kind of helped us. We realized that if we don’t play properly — especially at this time of the year — things aren’t going to go well for us. We’ve gotten back on track here and now we want to carry that over into the playoffs,” Brooks said.

The Pats (50-12-7-1) beat the Warriors 4-3 win Moose Jaw before knocking off a desperate Saskatoon Blades team 5-4 and then topping Swift Current 6-2.

Sam Steel is a goal shy of 50 for the season, but his 130 points should secure him the WHL scoring title. He is seven points ahead of Brooks, last year’s scoring title winner, heading into the final two games.

Warriors reversing momentum

Adding to the Pats’ pleasure is the fact that their four-game winning streak coincided with the Warriors (41-20-8-1) losing four straight games.

After being swept by the Pats, Moose Jaw lost 3-2 in overtime to Prince Albert and 3-1 to Brandon on successive nights.

After winning nine straight games, the Warriors have suddenly cooled on the eve of the playoffs. They did clinch home ice in their first round series against the Broncos. The teams will meet in a home-and-home to conclude the regular season.

Broncos quietly playing great hockey

The Broncos (38-22-4-6) have also been red hot, but are doing so somewhat under the radar.

They have won eight of their last 10 games, with both losses coming to the Pats.

Swift Current swept Saskatoon with 5-3 and 3-2 wins and then beat Brandon 6-3.

After scoring twice Friday against the Blades, Tyler Steenbergen became the first WHL player to reach the 50-goal mark Saturday at home.

With Jordan Papirny sidelined, Taz Burman has made five straight starts in goal for the Broncos. Papirny’s illness is ill-timed; he is one win away from tying and two from passing Tyson Sexsmith’s mark of 120 wins — the most by a goalie since 1996-97. (Courtesy WHLStats.ca)

Wheat Kings grab a pair of needed wins

Brandon Wheat Kings (31-29-7-3) have three wins in their last 12 games, but have won two of their last three contests.

They split a home-and-home with Prince Albert, losing 3-1 on the road, but winning 5-3 at home before losing to the Broncos and beating the Warriors.

The Wheat Kings will face Medicine Hat to open the playoffs.

Blades hopes hanging by a thread

The Saskatoon Blades (27-34-7-2) are still trying to secure a playoff spot and they will need a lot of help to do so. The Blades trail the Calgary Hitmen by three points heading into the final two games of the season. The Blades will play Prince Albert in a home-and-home and the Hitmen will face the Kootenay Ice. One win by the Hitmen or a Blades loss would decide the WHL’s final playoff spot.

The Blades lost all three games they played this week, while the Hitmen won three of four to race past them in the chase for the final wildcard playoff spot.

Raiders remain competitive

After owning the league’s worst record for much of the season, the Prince Albert Raiders (20-43-3-3) strong second half has seen them pass Vancouver and move to within a point of Edmonton.

The Raiders have been 12-12-4-0 since the trade deadline after only winning eight of their first 42 games of the season.

Nicholas Saunders made 41 saves in their 3-2 win in Moose Jaw. Parker Kelly has six goals and three assists in his last five games.

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Matthew Gourlie

Matthew Gourlie is a freelance journalist who has covered the Western Hockey League for the past 15 years, most recently as the sport editor of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald.