It was a whole new game for the Regina Pats this weekend, beating two of the best teams in Canadian major junior hockey.
The team’s marketing slogan came to life against the Red Deer Rebels and Lethbridge Hurricanes.
If you had to pick one reason for the team’s success, it had to be the return of 20-year-old captain Colby Williams.
“You can talk as much you want about you got to do it by committee and you talk about team effort, but you also need a leader,” said assistant coach Dave Struch.
“With Colby coming back as our captain, there’s no question he had a major impact on what happened on the weekend.”
Williams had missed the entire season to date with an arm injury he suffered over the summer.
Heading into his first weekend of action, expectations placed on Williams were low. Both he and the coaching staff were expecting that the Regina product would be eased into the line-up. So much for that idea — Williams was all over the ice on both Friday night and Sunday afternoon, scoring two goals, throwing a number of hits and just being his usual self.
“It’s an amazing story. Obviously, we’re really happy with it. He should be proud for himself. We know the players are. Hopefully it’s a sign of good things to come,” said Struch.
Williams even admits that his play surpassed his expectations.
“No you can’t really expect that. I think playing with (Chase Harrison) really made it easier,” noted Williams.
While Williams may be quick to give his current defence partner credit for making his transition back into the line-up easier, Harrison doesn’t really see it that way.
Even though Harrison is currently the team’s top scoring defenceman, the Winnipeg native feels it’s Williams who made him better and not the other way around.
“He makes my job easy because he knows where he needs to be,” said Harrison. “He helps me out if I’m in trouble and I try to help him out if he’s ever in trouble.”
The easy part is over for Williams — now comes the harder part.
There have been many examples of players returning from long-term injuries and getting off to hot starts. The adrenaline takes over and carries that player through the first few games. After that adrenaline wears off, fatigue from a lack of playing time may kick in as the player can’t sustain the pace they were playing at coming off the injury.
“I hope that doesn’t happen. I’m just going to play as much as I can before and how I played. I’m not going to change how I play,” said Williams.
The Pats return to action on Tuesday night as they host the Medicine Hat Tigers. That game is the last for the team before their annual Agribition road-trip with their next nine games away from the Brandt Centre.