The Tuesday night battle in the Subway WHL Hub saw the Regina Pats face the “host” Swift Current Broncos.
The Pats opened the floodgates and scored four third-period goals in a 6-1 win over the Broncos. Rookie phenom Connor Bedard would not be shutout for a second straight game, led the Pats with a pair of goals to go with two helpers.
The Pats changed things up early in the game and it was to their benefit. They moved Bedard to the right-wing and Logan Nijhoff moved into that line’s center spot. Zack Smith was moved to Carter Massier and Cole Dubinsky’s line.
“It was a cool experience getting to play with Bedard, I’ve played with Denomie before and we’ve always played pretty good together, it’s definitely exciting,” Nijhoff said after he was moved to Bedard’s line.
The Bedard show begins again
Carson Denomie opened the scoring for the Pats midway through the first period when he roofed a shot past the Swift Current goaltender. The marker was Denomie’s 12th of the season. Bedard picked up an assist which ended his one-game pointless drought Logan Nijhoff picked up the second assist.
Less than four minutes later Nijhoff scored his sixth of the season on the powerplay. He buried a rebound that was initially a Bedard shot. Ryker Evans picked up a helper on the 2-0 goal.
Bedard was just warming up, but the Broncos tried their best to spoil the party. With 30 seconds left in the first period, the Broncos got on the board. Bronco leading scorer Forward Matthew Ward ripped a beauty over Roddy Ross’ shoulder. His third goal of the campaign brought the Broncos back to within one at 2-1.
Goalie Ross made seven saves as the Pats outshot the Broncos 12-8 in the first period.
Neither team was able to do much of anything in the second period as neither team found the back of the net. The Pats did hold the Broncos to just four shots as they took a 23-21 lead through the first forty minutes.
The Bedard show continued
Four minutes into the third period, Bedard scored his ninth of the season with a beautiful wrist shot that beat the Bronco goaltender blocker side. Parker Berge picked up the lone assist on Bedard’s first of the game.
Just over a minute later, Dubinsky potted his second of the season. He tipped in an Evans point shot to give the Pats a 4-1 lead.
Bedard was not done yet. He picked up his second goal of the game and his 10th of the season. He ripped a shot through Dyck’s five-hole for an unassisted tally. His fourth point of the night gave him 26 points in just 14 games in his WHL career. The Pats had a 5-1 lead with less than eight minutes left.
“It’s definitely going to be a big hit,” Nijhoff said of Bedard, who has one more game before heading off to the world Under18s. “Seeing what he’s done in these 14 games is pretty remarkable, it will give the younger guys an opportunity to step up.
“We’re going to have to battle with it next year I’m sure too when he goes off for U18s or even World Juniors which I’m sure he’ll get the chance to go for. It’ll be fun to get to see what the younger guys kind of have in a bigger role, but we’re definitely going to miss him in the locker room and around the team environment.”
The Pats added one more with just under four minutes left. Kyle Walker took the puck around the Bronco net on a wraparound attempt. He lost the handle, but Smith was there to finish the play giving three goals on the season and the Pats a 6-1 victory.
The team played well, ending a busy stretch
“Everyone played a really good game, we stuck to our structure.,” Nijhoff said of the teams’ overall win. “We definitely played a lot better of a team game, getting pucks in, all lines were going. It was great to see, and we need to build on this moving into harder games like Brandon.”
After playing six games in nine days, the Pats now have two days off.
“We’ve definitely been battling through it,” Nijhoff said after the Pats had just played six games in nine days. “Our ‘d’ corps has taken quite a (few) big hits, we had lots of defensemen that were injured. I think everyone’s battling through bumps and bruises right now but overall, I think we made it out pretty good.”
“It’s a lot of games,” Nijhoff said when asked about the condensed schedule. “It feels like a minor hockey tournament that Is two months long.”
The next action for the Pats is Friday, April 9 at 4 p.m. when they face the Brandon Wheat Kings. The game also marks the last time Bedard will suit up for the Pats this season.
Patterings: The Pats swept the three star-awards. Bedard (2G, 2A), Nijhoff (1G, 1A), and Evans (2A) received the honors. The Pats went 1-for-3 on the powerplay and killed both penalties they received. The Pats outshot the Broncos 36-21 overall. Pats goalie Ross played solid in the Pats net making 20 saves for his best statistical outing of the campaign.