The Pats are returning to Regina in another must-win situation.
It was a strong start for the Pats, but in the end, a collapse allowed Seattle win 7-4. Seattle is up on Regina 3-2 in the series, but perhaps, fortunately, that’s not a new feeling for this Pats team.
It was only a few weeks ago that the Pats were returning home to the Brandt Centre after falling behind 3-1 in the second round series against Swift Current. The next three games were all about the Pats defying the odds stacked against them over and over.
“We did things right when we were down in that situation,” said Pats head coach John Paddock after the Friday night loss. “If you do things right you give yourself a really good chance.”
And this game did start off right for the Pats with an early goal from Josh Mahura just 65 seconds into the first period. About two minutes later Jeff de Wit made his presence known, avoiding a check and firing the puck on the net at a near impossible angle to put his team up 2-0.
But the Pats couldn’t keep Seattle down for long. The Thunderbirds took advantage of their powerplay opportunities going two for two in the first when they had the extra man. The game was marred with Pats penalties and the Thunderbirds taking advantage of them.
“We took too many penalties,” said defenceman Connor Hobbs. “They got a killer powerplay and we’re just shooting ourselves in the foot.”
That was the coach’s assessment too.
“I think that’s a big starting point. The game was 3-3 if nobody had any powerplay goals,” Paddock said.
In the second period, there were four penalties split between the two teams before any scoring happened, and even then it was the Pats who got on the board. Dawson Leedahl showed incredible patience waiting for the perfect time to fire the puck in and past Thunderbird goalie Carl Stankowski to make it 3-2.
Things were looking good for the Pats until Austin Wagner took a late period roughing penalty and like they had twice before, Seattle made Regina pay for it, evening things up at three courtesy of Keegan Kolesar. Then less than a minute later Mathew Barzal found his way past Pats goaltender Tyler Brown to give his team their first lead of the night.
The hemorrhage would get worse for the Pats in the third, early goals from Nolan Volcan and Ryan Gropp put Seattle up 6-3 four minutes into the period.
Austin Wagner went on to score his first goal of the series, but it was too little too late. Brown was pulled for the extra attacker, and the Pats pressured Seattle’s 17-year-old goalie hard, but he held strong denying the Pats any chance at a comeback.
Then, to add insult to injury, Tyler Ottenbreit scored an empty-netter with two seconds left in the game.
“It’s tough, it’s not easy,” said Hobbs about the loss. “It’s hockey, things happen and we have no choice to come back and keep trying. That’s the way we’re built and that’s what we’re going to do.”
“We have lots of belief in the team, lots of belief going back to (our) building,” Paddock said. “That’s why we did all we could to finish first this year to have that, so we believe it’s going to work out.”
The Pats return home to the Brandt Centre for a 6 p.m. puck drop on Sunday evening.