The Pats picked up a crucial game five win at home Friday night, and they aren’t taking it for granted.
Regina hasn’t had the leg up in a playoffs series since they swept the Calgary Hitmen in the first round, but with their 5-3 win tonight, the team is heading into Lethbridge on Sunday with a chance to close out the series.
“(It’s) very important. We haven’t had a lead in this series yet and we needed to get a lead, get a stranglehold on this series,” said Pats captain Adam Brooks.
But according to Brooks and to head coach John Paddock 5-3 win wasn’t necessarily indicative of a game well played by the Pats.
“I don’t think the better team won tonight like has happened so far in the series. I don’t know that they were on top of their game either but I know that we weren’t even close to our game,” Paddock said.
There was, however, some impressive goals on both sides of the ice.
Lethbridge got on the board within the first three minutes of the game, perhaps hoping to knock the Pats out of the zone a little bit, like they were able to do in game three, but in the end, it simply started a back and forth between the teams that continued through the second period.
The Pats’ first goal of the evening came off a Josh Mahura shot from the point that sailed past Stuart Skinner near the end of the first period. The goal sent the teams into intermission tied at one.
Both teams scored goals in the second period, including a beauty by Sam Steel to give him his first goal of the playoffs.
The teams were tied at three heading into the third period.
And it was the third, it seemed when the Pats really came alive. First with a goal from Dawson Leedahl, that would turn out to be the game-winner, but later on with an outstanding five on three penalty kill to hold the lead.
“It was very, very crucial,” Paddock said of the kill. “It might have been our best minute and a half of the game. Guys held the ground, blocked shots, gave them as little as you could give on a five on three. It was big.”
And the fans seem to light up like never before during the period with cheers and boos. Brooks said it gave an exhausted set of players a boost.
“You get goose bumps, maybe a little bit of energy if things are going that well for us and especially in a situation, in a five on three when guys are pretty tired and doing anything it takes to kill it, just to hear the cheers it really gets you going and makes you want to do that little extra to kill it off.”
Once the penalties were killed off the Pats were able to hold their ground for the rest of the period, even after Skinner left the Hurricanes bench for a final six-man rush.
And with literal seconds left on the clock, Austin Wagner buried an empty netter to seal the deal and send his team back to Lethbridge up 3-2 in the series.
The Pats will have a chance to wrap the Eastern Conference Final up in six games on Sunday.
Puck drop is at 6 p.m.