For the second time in just over a week, the Oil Kings and Pats faced off. It was another good effort for the Pats against the second best team in the WHL on Saturday night.
The opening period was fairly even, despite what the shot clock read. Jake Neighbours opened the scoring on the power play late in the period. Pats starter Danton Belluk made the first two saves, but Neighbours pounced on the second rebound and deposited it in the net.
Pats head coach Dave Struch lamented the missed chances in the first period. “(The) power play did some good things to get shots. Those are things we have to capitalize on. When we do get opportunities like that, we have to be that much better.”
Soon after the goal, this happened:
Unfortunate incident tonight, Cole Dubinsky on a hard back check can't avoid Belluk and runs into him hard. Belluk finished the period but did not come out in the second. Buskey finished the game. pic.twitter.com/oLB92WPgzc
— Chris Clark (@theclarksy) February 23, 2020
Belluk did stay in and finished the period, but he did not return to the game and was not on the bench. Donovan Buskey came in and finished the game for Regina.
“One of the trickier situations in sports, but it’s part of being a goalie — you got to be ready for it. You always gotta have your mind on when it’s game day. It helps when you get a few shots early, and I had that so that was nice.”
Donovan Buskey on relief duty
The Pats tied up the game late in the second period. Zach Wytinck‘s point shot was deflected wide of the net by Austin Pratt, but it came off the end boards right back to Pratt and he shoveled it home.
With no scoring in the third period , the game headed to overtime. Both teams had chances but it was Josh Williams who was able to beat Buskey for the win. Williams was named third star for his efforts on the night.
“We have to find times to take advantage to create offense. When we get to overtime, it’s a good opportunity for us, to more ice, we can play our more skilled players, take advantage of some opportunities,” said Struch on the team’s play in overtime.
The Pats penalty kill was 3-of-4 on the night. A potential momentum shift came early in the third period when Robbie Holmes was given a five minute major for a check to the head penalty. It ended up only being a three minute man disadvantage as Tyler Horstmann took a two minute minor for roughing on the play.
“I give our goalies lots of credit, but our players (are) doing the right thing. We talk about little details in the game that make differences. Being in the right spot, a good stick here. Getting (the) puck 200 feet, being hard on somebody in front of the net. Those little things paid off for us tonight. And that was a big one,” said Struch on the penalty kill.
Despite the loss, Struch was happy with the team’s play. “We talked about this being a playoff game for us. We played a playoff game tonight. It was low scoring, we played tremendous away from the puck, we did things right. We broke the puck out so well tonight, and it was because of our defensive play. We were in the right spots that we needed to be. Edmonton is a really, really good hockey team. They’re very well coached. They have high end players, top to bottom. They have got depth, top to bottom. For us to get a point from them is a credit to the players.”
Since the trade of Max Paddock, Donovan Buskey has been given the reins as the starter.
“Yeah, it helps big time. I’ve never had that before in this league. I haven’t been playing consistently since minor hockey. It’s been nice, and I’m just gonna keep trying to do as much as I can with whatever starts I get. When I first got the news that I was going to get a bit more of an opportunity, my goal was to be consistent. If I bring my best self every night, give the guys the same chance to win every night, and I think I’ve been doing a better job of that. Still room for improvement,” said Buskey on getting regular starts and his play of late.
Regina starting goalie Danton Belluk made 12 saves on 13 shots in his 20 minutes of action.
Donovan Buskey stopped 27-of-28 shots in relief and was named second star.
Edmonton goalie Beck Warm was named first star with a 15 save performance.
Austin Pratt has goals in back-to-back games.
With two assists, Dylan Guenther now has eight points in the last five games. He is second in WHL rookie scoring.
The Pats finish the weekend on Sunday with Brandon in town.