The Highway 1 rivalry heated up on Tuesday evening. It was a spirited affair between the two non-playoff teams with the Pats prevailing 7-4. The game saw plenty of hits, goals, a couple fights and drama at the end of the game.
Spencer Welke made his Pats debut on Tuesday evening. Welke, a listed player, was signed by the Pats in October of 2019. He made 20 saves on 24 shots to earn the win.
“Feels good. To get the first one out of the way right away, it feels good. I’m happy with the effort the boys gave me tonight,” said Welke postgame.
Win number ☝️ in the @TheWHL tonight for this guy!!
— Regina Pats (@WHLPats) March 4, 2020
Welke backed up Donovan Buskey on Friday night in his first game as a Pat. Buskey was slightly injured in the Friday game, but finished the game and proceeded to have a first star effort on Saturday in a losing cause to Medicine Hat. He and Danton Belluk, the Pats’ usual goalie tandem, are listed day-to-day on Tuesday’s weekly report. Both Welke and Matthew Kieper were unavailable on Saturday night in Medicine Hat due to their Midget teams playing in the playoffs. The Pats had to call in Ethan Hein, a Calgary Hitmen prospect, as an emergency back up goalie. Hein served as the backup on Tuesday night again.
Welke spoke about the whirlwind that has been the past few days. “It’s part of hockey. It’s a lot of travel, the last couple days, but anytime you’re getting a call up or going back to play playoff hockey, it doesn’t matter the travel. I love the game and I’m willing to travel anywhere for it.”
Cole Carrier gave the Pats the early lead with a goal off the rush, but Moose Jaw responded. Martin Lang got behind the defence and was awarded a penalty shot as he took a slash on the breakaway. Lang scored to tie the game. Carson Sass then gave the Warriors the lead as he was left alone at the blue line, took a pass and came down the slot to beat Welke glove side.
“It’s not quite the way you want to start it — penalty shot and the breakdown defensively — but I thought he did a good job, he worked really hard looking for pucks. Defensively, we cleaned up secondary, they didn’t get too many secondary shots,” said Pats head coach Dave Struch about Welke’s first game.
The Pats tied up the game later in the opening period when Ryker Evans was able to slide the puck under Brock Gould‘s pad. That spelled the end for the Moose Jaw starting goalie, as Boston Bilous relieved him.
In the second period, Logan Nijhoff tipped a Zach Wytinck point shot just after a Moose Jaw penalty had ended to give the Pats the lead. It turned out to be the only goal of the frame.
The Pats added three more early in the third period. Cole Carrier, with his second of the night, Zack Smith and Carson Denomie all tallied.
“It’s proof that when you play the right way without the puck, you get to have the puck more. We do the right things against the top end teams. We are at the bottom of the food chain, so we have to do those things right and the guys did it for 60 minutes tonight and got rewarded for it. Tonight was the first opportunity in a lot of games, because we played some top end teams, for us to play more with the puck. You can see we got to create some offense, we got to score some nice goals. So there’s some reward to doing things right, and the guys should feel good about that,” said Struch on the team’s complete effort Tuesday night.
That effort was not without mistakes as former Pat Garrett Wright got Moose Jaw back in the game with a goal right after the Pats’ three early third period goals. Wright was able to grab one of the few rebounds from Welke that the Pats could not clean up and deposit it in the net. Tate Popple then scored on a 5-on-3 power play to get the Warriors within two. Carter Chorney sealed the victory for Welke and the Pats with a late goal in the third.
The rivalry between these two teams took center stage as Moose Jaw’s Daemon Hunt grabbed the puck post-buzzer and proceeded to toss it in the crowd. The Pats had already spilled onto the ice and Robbie Holmes took exception. Fisticuffs ensued. Holmes may be hearing from the league as he was given a penalty for leaving the bench.
Cole Carrier collected his second and third goals of the season — and his career — in the win and was named first star. It was his first game versus Moose Jaw since coming over from the Kelowna Rockets. Postgame, Carrier commented on the rivalry. “The intensity was high. There’s fights in the game, many goals being scored, tensions a bit high at the end, just an amazing game.”
Carrier had a couple chances at the hat trick. “Hitting the post stings a little bit but getting to come back down the ice not too long later and assisting one of my teammates’ goals, definitely happy with that.”
Carrier was named the WHL’s third star of the night.
— The WHL (@TheWHL) March 4, 2020
Second star of the game Ryker Evans had a goal and an assist for his sixth multi-point game of the season.
Third star Carson Denomie continues to lead the Pats in goal scoring, now with 21 goals. He ended a ten-game goalless drought with the goal on Tuesday night.
Carson Sass‘ goal was the first of the season for him.
Moose Jaw’s Eric Alarie had two assists in the game, which gives him four in the past three games.
Austin Pratt had two assists, giving him ten points in the his last eight games. He still leads the Pats with 54 points.
Twelve Pats players collected points in the season-high seven-goal outburst.
Ryder Korczak of the Warriors had his three-game goal-scoring streak come to an end but has points in five straight with an assist on the night. He leads the team with 67 points.
Martin Lang has eight points in a five-game point streak and 15 points in his past 12 games.
Moose Jaw starter Brock Gould stopped 9-of-11 shots, while Boston Bilous stopped 25-of-30 in relief.
The Warriors scored the only power-play goal of the game. Both teams had four opportunities.
The Pats are back in action on Friday. They travel to Saskatoon and then host the Blades on Saturday night.