In this installment of the “Top five” in Regina Pasts history, we cover the goaltenders. When the forwards and defensemen were previously covered, there was a trove of players that could have been involved. The goaltenders’ list is a lot shorter and had way fewer options. The top two in this list are no doubters, but three through five were not as easy.
With that said, here are the top five goaltenders in Regina Pats’ history (WHL version).
Chad Mercier (1992-97)
In at number five, we have Chad Mercier. Mercier’s career started with the Pats in 1992-93 as a 16-year-old rookie getting into 14 games, backing-up Mike Risdale. In his second season, he had more of an expanded role getting into 31 games behind Mike Walker. When he returned for his 18-year-old season he had won the starting job. For the next two seasons, he ran the show, playing in 53 games in each of those seasons.
During a game against the Prince Albert Raiders in the 1996 playoffs, he was hit and suffered a hip injury. The injury helped derail the Pats and their playoff run. He tried to play through the injury, but the Pats eventually bowed out in seven games.
Mercier returned to the Pats for his overage season. He played nine games, before re-injuring his hip and forcing him to the sidelines. The Pats’ management went and made the choice to pick up another 20-year-old goalie, Andy Adams. Mercier did therapy and tried to make a comeback and the Pats were so confident that they kept him on as the third overage player. In early 1997 he was able to be the back-up, but he had issues with his back/hip and on February 17, 1997, he stepped aside for good.
With some of the talent the Pats had during his career, the Pats underperformed, and it shows with his career numbers. Mercier’s stats do not tell the whole story though. His appearance in 160 regular-season games is fourth all-time, and the 8,391 minutes he played is fifth. He went 61-75-4 with one shutout with a goals-against-average of 4.06. In 15 playoff games, he went 7-5 with a 3.57 GAA
Bart Hunter (1979-80)
Even though he only played one season with the Pats, Bart Hunter is at number four on the list. Hunter’s career with the Pats began on September 29, 1979. He signed with the Pats during the first intermission of a Washington Capitals and Canadian Olympic team exhibition game. His rights were originally owned by Portland and Medicine Hat had claimed him on waivers. The Pats tried for some time to get his rights and were finally able to claim him from the Tigers. In the end, the Pats owed both Medicine Hat and Portland future considerations.
Hunter did not disappoint in his lone season with the Pats playing in all but three of the teams’ 72 games. The 1979-80 Pats went 47-24-1 finishing first in the East division 13 points clear of second place. The Pats marched all the way through to the WHL championship and in the process, he played every minute. The Pats then went on to the Memorial Cup, where circumstances led the Pats to finish in third place.
Even though the Washington Capitals owned his rights, it did not turn into an NHL opportunity. He played parts of the next three seasons in the minors toiling in the AHL, IHL, and the CHL.
Although he only played 69 games with the Pats, he places 26th overall in appearances. He is the only Pats goalie to surpass 4,000 minutes in a season with 4,033. Hunter went 45-21-1 with 3 shutouts in his lone season. He also picked up 12 assists which is still a WHL record. His WHL playoff stats were even better than his regular-season: 14-4 with a 3.62 GAA.
Jamie Reeve (1982-85)
Jamie Reeve comes in at number three. Many Pats fans seem to forget Reeve as one of the top tier goalies in their history. The Pats acquired Reeve from the Nanaimo Islanders in August of 1982 (for future considerations). In 1982-83, his first season Reeve backed-up Todd Lumbard (now Pats part-owner). He was able to get into 19 games as a rookie.
In 1983-84, Reeve became the starter and helped the Pats put up over 40 wins for the fifth straight season. in 47 games he picked up 27 wins. That season the Pats made a run to the WHL final beating the Calgary Wranglers, Brandon Wheat Kings, and Medicine Hat Tigers in the East. The season ended in a heartbreaking Game Seven loss in the WHL final to the Kamloops Junior Oilers.
He returned to the Pats for his overage season in 1984-85 where he once again was the starting goalie. He played in 56 games and helped the Pats get to 40-plus wins for the sixth straight season. The playoffs didn’t go as planned with the Pats losing to Medicine Hat in the East semi-final.
He played 122 games (12th), 6,944 minutes (12th) allowing just 388 goals for a 3.87 goals-against average, which are solid numbers for the era. In his career he went 69-41-2, he picked up 6 shutouts, 3 assists, and 57 PIM. In 31 playoff games, he went 19-12 with a 3.83 GAA with no shutouts.
Josh Harding (2001-04)
In at number two, we have Regina boy Josh Harding. In many ways, Harding could be mentioned as the best goalie in Pats (WHL) history. His stats are close to, if not the best, in history. The Pats struggled scoring goals for the two-and-a-half seasons he played for the team. Regina drafted him 53rd overall (3rd round) in the 1999 bantam draft.
He made the team in 2001-02. Regina had just came off hosting the Memorial Cup and were not supposed to be that strong of a team that season. That Pats team, with Harding and Chad Davidson splitting duties, won 40 games. The Minnesota Wild drafted him 38th overall in 2002.
The 2002-03 Pats were not a strong club but that did not stop Harding from making more of an impression. He was so good that season, despite a losing record, that he won the WHL Top Goaltender and the WHL Player of the Year.
In his third year, Harding started well and received an invite to play for Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championships. He managed to play one game for Canada and came home with a silver medal. The Pats traded him to the Brandon Wheat Kings prior to the 2004 WHL trade deadline.
Harding made a successful professional turn within the Minnesota Wild system. Injuries hampered him throughout. His career was derailed as he discovered that he had multiple sclerosis in the fall of 2012, inevitably retiring during the 2014-15 season.
Harding finished with a 57-51-17 record with nine shutouts (second amongst modern goalies). He played in 127 games (10th all-time) and had a 2.56 career goals-against average (first among Pats’ modern goalies). He went 3-8 in the playoffs, with a 2.69 GAA.
Ed Staniowski (1971-74)
Probably the easiest choice for number one is Ed Staniowski, whose name is synonymous with the Regina Pats. The Moose Jaw, SK product made the Pats in 1971-72 as a 16-year-old backup to Bernie Germain.
Staniowski became Regina’s starter as a seventeen-year-old in 1972-73 and played in 92.7% (191 of 206) of the teams’ games over the next three seasons. The Pats won the 1973-74 WCHL Championship and the 1974 Memorial Cup.
In 1974-75 the Pats lost a huge amount of talent. Staniowski played a key role for that team and the Pats were able to compete. He capped off his Pats career winning the 1974-75 CHL Player of the Year.
The St. Louis Blues selected Staniowski 27th overall in the NHL draft. The Cleveland Crusaders of the WHA also saw something in him and as a result, drafted him 35th overall. He played 219 games in the NHL for the St. Louis Blues, Winnipeg Jets, and Hartford Whalers.
In February 2000, the Pats retired his jersey number (1).
Staniowski holds a few Pats all-time goaltending records, games played (206) and minutes played (12,052). He had 12 assists in his career which ties him with Bart Hunter for first amongst goalies. He had eight career shutouts placing him fifth all-time. His 31 penalty minutes puts him in the top-10 by a Pats goaltender. Unfortunately, his win-loss record is incomplete as the 1971-72 season is missing that stat. In his three seasons as a starter, he went 98-67-24 (available data). Staniowski played in 36 playoff games going 19-15-0 with a 3.34 goals-against average and two shutouts.
There were quite a few others that could be on this list as well. There were arguments for Germain, Houk, Rowat, Brown, Imoo, Hoople, Bromley, Risdale, & Lumbard to appear as well. With any list like this, there are no wrong answers.