With just two wins in their last six games, you could be in the majority of people who think the Regina Pats are in the midst of a rebuilding season. You’d also be correct, as the Pats are coming off back-to-back seasons where they needed to sell much of their future to gain for the present.
They continued to re-build and re-stock their cupboards this season by trading away a lot of parts that are helping other teams. Gone are the likes of Nick Henry, Jake Leschyshyn, Aaron Hyman and Robbie Holmes.
That gave players like Ty Kolle, Logan Nijhoff and Ryker Evans a foot in the door to make their mark on the Regina Pats.
Those two wins were coupled with a one-goal loss, a two-goal loss that included a late empty-net goal and a three-goal loss. A marked improvement over the blow-outs that were happening more often than not in the first half of the season.
“That team plays hard, you know they work, I thought in the third period we made a good push, their goalie made a couple of big saves,” said Rebels GM/Head Coach Brent Sutter following the game.
The Rebels entered the night on a three-game losing streak and are staring down the final home weekend before their trip through the daunting US Division. The Rebels needed to find their winning ways of the first half of the season, and they received a boost when Alexander Alexeyev was noted on the starting lineups as being in the game.
The first period was definitely a feeling out period for both teams as neither appeared to excel at keeping the puck out of their own zone or able to hold onto it for long periods in the attacking zone.
Besides the time spent on the power play, neither team generated many opportunities through 20 minutes, and the score remained knotted at zero. Regina held a shot advantage over the Rebels by hitting the net 12 times to the Rebels seven.
In the period, former Rebel Austin Pratt attempted to make a hit on Jacob Herauf and missed, sending him crashing into the boards. The Pats’ leading scorer needed the assistance of the trainer and did not return for the rest of the period.
With Pratt back on the bench in the second period, the Pats had to hope his presence provided a spark.
It did not.
Red Deer came flying out of the gate.
Just 1:25 into the middle frame, Alexander Alexeyev showed how much this team missed him by setting up Cameron Hausinger for his 17th goal of the season. Hausinger’s shot fooled Max Paddock and wound up bending twine.
The lead was short lived however, and the hero became the goat.
21 seconds after his goal, Hausinger was called for boarding, and the Pats were off to their second power play of the evening.
The Pats’ attackers used the entire offensive zone to pass the puck around. Ty Kolle found himself open to the right of Ethan Anders. When the pass from Brady Pouteau came to him he had most of the net to shoot at and he didn’t miss.
Just 1:04 after Hausinger scored for Red Deer, it was tied at one.
On a power play of their own the Rebels re-took the lead.
Brandon Hagel’s cross ice pass to Brett Davis was on the mark and Davis wired the puck past Paddock. On Davis’ 16th goal of the year Brandon Hagel tied the all-time assists mark for the Rebels with 161. Arron Asham scored as many in the four seasons he was a Rebel (1994-98). Hagel took 24 less games to achieve that mark.
With just 4:36 to play in the period, Logan Nijhoff was the recipient of a pass from Blake Allen who had scooped it off the end boards. Anders was unprepared for the shot and the game was tied once again. It was Nijhoff’s fourth goal of the season
The hard working Pats made it 2-2 and the second period ended with the Pats outshooting the Rebels 23-16.
When the teams hit the ice for the third period, no one knew what to expect. Red Deer has not been the best in the third period of late, and Regina has been known to collapse in the third period of hockey games.
It was the Rebels who came out flying in the third.
The team had chance after chance to take the lead but Paddock was up to the task. They continued to throw pucks on the net and make nifty moves in close but nothing would slide through the blue paint and into the back of the net.
By the 18 minute mark the Pats had yet to get a single shot on net. They did finish with two on the period. Red Deer had pelted Paddock with 17. Yet the teams needed overtime to solve this game.
And solve it they would.
With Brandon Hagel in the penalty box for hooking, the Pats took advantage.
With four players on the ice to the Rebels three, Regina was able to move the puck around deep in Rebels territory. The puck eventually found its way to rookie defenseman Ryker Evans and he was able to put a shot through Anders and into the back of the net. It was his first ever WHL goal.
“Bad penalty by Hags (Brandon Hagel) in overtime. It puts you down 4-on-3. It’s a lot tougher killing on a 4-on-3 than it is 5-on-4. Again they two power play goals on us tonight, the penalty killing here in the last two weeks or three weeks hasn’t been very good,” added Sutter when discussing the overtime goal that gave the Pats the win.
The Pats swiped two points in Red Deer and the Rebels were left winless in their last four.
“What else do you say, we gotta find ways to get points, we will take the point and move on. Still we need better from some guys, I thought some guys got better as the game went on, some guys didn’t,” Sutter summed up the result.
Rebel Yell… The three stars were Cameron Hausinger, Max Paddock and Ryker Evans. Red Deer won 48-of-74 faceoffs on the back of Reese Johnson (16-of-27). Logan Nijhoff was the best Pat (15-of-30). Hagel led all players with 6 shots, Pratt had 5 for the Pats. Red Deer allowed two power play goals, Regina allowed just one. Red Deer’s next action is tomorrow night as they host the Moose Jaw Warriors, while Regina plays in Edmonton on Sunday afternoon.