The Regina Pats were predicted to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference this season as they gear up to host the 2018 Memorial Cup.
The Pats haven’t quite lived up to that billing as they’re currently fourth in the East Division and holding down the first wild card spot. Nonetheless, they’re a potent team with plenty of offensive weapons, and they gutted out a 2-1 over Everett Sunday during a game in which they fired 50 shots at Carter Hart.
The Tips did score on their final power play for their lone goal of the night.
A little perspective:
Patrick Bajkov’s power-play goal snapped an 0-for-21 skid going back to the 4-0 win at Prince George on Nov. 10, and a 1-for-45 stretch going back to the 3-1 win at Kamloops on Oct. 27. The Tips are currently 21st in the WHL on the power play at 14.5 percent.
A little more perspective:
Over this same span the Tips are 29-for-30 on the penalty kill, and have killed off their last 20 penalties to move past Prince George into the WHL lead at 86.6 percent. This admittedly small sample size corresponds with the debut of Dustin Wolf and the return of Carter Hart.
Head coach Dennis Williams noted after Sunday’s game that most of the top penalty killers are also the top power-play members, and indicated the coaching staff might look at involving different players on the penalty kill to give the power-play members a bit of a break.
“We have to start to work on balancing out some other guys on that kill,” he said, “because it might be affecting a little bit of our power play there as well, with the overplaying of some guys there and not being able to execute when it’s time to go up 5-on-4.”
It’s not like Williams had a lot of options. An already short Tips bench lost forward Luke Ormsby (suspension TBD) and forward Connor Dewar (upper body, day-to-day) in Saturday’s game, and dressed just 10 forwards and seven defensemen Sunday. Forward Sean Richards received a game misconduct penalty in the first period Sunday to further shrink the options.
The Turning Point
Riley Sutter missed a tap-in to a wide-open net on the power play near the end of the second period that would have tied the game 1-1. Regina took the one-goal lead into the second intermission before adding a second early in the third.
Everett G Carter Hart: Hart recorded a career-best 48 saves in a tough-luck loss.
Regina D Josh Mahura: The Pats blueliner assisted both goals.
Regina G Tyler Brown: Brown out-dueled Hart with 38 saves to pick up the win.
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