The Winnipeg ICE completed the season sweep of the Regina Pats with a 6-4 win in Tuesday night’s action in the Subway WHL Hub. Zack Smith did all he could to help the Pats, but his first career hat-trick (and four-point game) were not enough. The powerful ICE had five different goal scorers and Michael Milne who dented the twine twice and added an assist led the way. The ICE had a 6-2 lead late and the Pats battled to make it a 6-4 game, but it was too little too late.
“It was really nice to see our players not quit,” said Pats head coach Dave Struch of the Pats compete to the very end. “Being down by a big margin against a good team. The overall game; was a team in Winnipeg that has high-end skill, that works really, really hard against a team that works really, really hard in our team. That’s not a knock against our guys, we’re just a young group coming into our own. Winnipeg’s had a lot of high draft picks over the course of time here and they’ve done well with those. They all work very hard and that’s why they had so much success in this hub. They’re going to be a good team again next year and they’re very well-coached.”
James Form scored his third of the season early in the first period to get the ICE on the board first. Chase Bertholet beat the Pat defender to the puck beside the goal and chipped a backhand pass to Form who made no doubt one-timing it home past Roddy Ross. The ICE had a 1-0 lead 6:12 into the first period.
With just 29.5 seconds left in the first period, Mike Ladyman scored on a screenshot to give the ICE a 2-0 lead.
Conor Geekie scored to give the ICE a 3-0 lead. He finished off a one-timer on a 2-on-1 at 2:50 of the second period.
Smith scored a shorthanded goal to stop the bleeding and got the Pats in the game. He chipped the puck past the ICE defender and beat him to it. He broke in alone on Carl Stankowski and was able to tuck home his fifth of the season. His goal pulled the Pats to within one at 15:55.
Milne pounced on a rebound and fired home the fourth ICE goal of the game. His fifth of the season gave the ICE a 4-1 lead at 17:28.
Zach Benson spun and fired home the ICE’s fifth goal of the game early in the third period. His 10th of the season at 1:22 gave the ICE a 5-1 lead.
Carter Massier scored a beauty between the legs goal to get the Pats to within three. His fifth goal of the season pulled the Pats to within three. The ICE had a 5-2 ICE lead at 6:12 of the third period.
Milne scored his second of the game as he won the battle against the Pat defender and tucked it home past a prone Ross. His sixth of the season gave the ICE a 6-2 lead at 9:47.
The Pats made it close late as Smith scored a pair of powerplay goals with less than three minutes left.
Smith scored his second of the game on a beautiful feed from Tanner Howe. His powerplay goal cut the ICE lead to 6-3 at 17:11.
Smith completed the hat-trick just 21 seconds later to make it 6-4 with yet another powerplay goal. He converted on a nice pass in front by Carson Denomie.
🧢 First career hat trick from Zack Smith!
— Regina Pats (@WHLPats) April 28, 2021
That was all the offense the Pats could muster as they ran out of time in a 6-4 loss.
“We’re behind them (the ICE) but our work ethic from start to finish becomes a very important part,” as Struch compared the teams. “I think that’s why we finished where we finished because of that. Our compete, our intensity those types of things are very important in growing, maintaining what we started here. Through this development phase and rebuild phase until we get high draft picks back in the lineup.”
“The overall hockey side, we really liked what we saw,” Struch said.
“The COVID side,” he continued. “Credit to every one of those guys in there for doing things the right way consistently to give each and every one of them an opportunity to continue playing hockey and to (get) where we are today.”
Pats captain Logan Nijhoff was thankful to have a chance to play in the Hub.
“It was a one-of-a-kind experience, hopefully. We’re obviously very grateful we got this opportunity, and it was a great opportunity for us to really come together as a team. We couldn’t be more thankful,” he said.
👋 😢 We're not crying, you're crying!
📻 Catch the action at 6 p.m. vs. @WHLWpgICE
It's been a thrill, Phil! pic.twitter.com/KoR0j5nOKT
— Regina Pats (@WHLPats) April 27, 2021
Now that the 2020-21 season has concluded, everything now shifts to the future. The upcoming 2021-22 season will be the focus and with things going right will start sometime in the fall.
“It’s exciting. Obviously, we’re still very young, so we’re going to need a lot of guys to step up next year like we did in these last five games,” Nijhoff said of building toward next season.
“It’ll be fun and it’s extremely exciting. I’m looking forward to hopefully being a contender.”
Patterings: Each team started their 20-year-olds for this contest. Kyle Walker, Ross, and Denomie were in the Pats starting lineup… The ICE had Anderson MacDonald, Stankowski, and Jackson Leppard. Peyton Krebs was in the starting lineup as well and was possibly playing his last game for the ICE… Despite not playing the final nine Pat games, Connor Bedard led the team in scoring with 28 points. Evans finished second with 27… The ICE has yet to lose to the Pats since the club moved to Winnipeg.