After blasting pucks at the net all night a long-awaited equalizer by Connor Hobbs still wasn’t enough to power the Pats past the Thunderbirds Friday night.
A powerplay goal from Ochapowace’s Ethan Bear in the second period put Seattle up on the Pats and broke up a scoreless start to the game.
It wasn’t until the third that Hobbs’ shot would finally find its way past goaltender Carl Stankowski, forcing overtime.
Then just 14 seconds into the fourth frame Grenfell, Saskatchewan’s Donovan Neuls collected Bear’s rebound and ended it.
The final score was 2-1.
“It was tough. Obviously it’s a quick goal a really good bounce for them at the start of the period and didn’t go our way,” said Hobbs after the game.
Head coach John Paddock said the game was pretty even throughout, and the score indicated that. He said Seattle didn’t show them anything they weren’t expecting.
“They played exactly how we thought they were going to play and the goalie was exactly as good as he looked in the games we watched against Kelowna (Seattle’s third round match up),” he said.
“I think we have another level to go to,” Paddock added.
The WHL Championship series may have begun on a hot May night in Regina, but by the end of the game at least one Seattle player received an icy reception from the fans.
In the second period, Thunderbird Turner Ottenbreit leveled Pats captain Adam Brooks. Brooks head hit the ice with some force and his visor appeared to cut him above the eye leaving a pool of blood behind.
Brooks spent some time sprawled out on the ice face down before being helped upright by the Pats athletic trainer who checked out his forehead. The captain did not return to the game.
Fans showed their displeasure with the hit by booing every time Ottenbreit touched the puck.
“I don’t think it was necessarily that high,” said Paddock. “But it was a Scott Steven hit and that’s what I see and believe I’ve had 20 texts from NHL scouts from all over with the same comment.”
Stevens is a hall of fame hockey player who played most of his career with the New Jersey Devils and was known for his punishing hits.
“I mean it sucks obviously,” said Hobbs. “But you can’t let one player dictate how the rest of the team’s going to play. Obviously Brooksy was out before in playoffs and we found a way to battle and that’s just what we got to do moving forward here.”
A small silver lining is just that. The Pats have been without Brooks before after a knee injury sidelined him for most of the series against Swift Current. Wyatt Sloboshan moved up to play in his spot on the second line alongside Filip Ahl and Austin Wagner and the three were instrumental in the team’s comeback from a 3-1 series deficit.
“Both Wags and Flip had played with Wyatt before so I thought there was quicker chemistry than there would normally be,” Paddock said about the adjustments made after Brooks left the game.
When asked, he declined to give any details on Brooks’ status.
The Pats – with or without Brooks – will be back in action Saturday night for game two.
The puck drops at 7 p.m.