|Voice of the Pats Phil Andrews|
- The NHL's Central Scouting Service revealed its preliminary players to watch list for the 2015/16 season, ahead of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. A total of 40 players from the Western Hockey League made the list, two from the Regina Pats.
Players have been identified using the following criteria:
• A Rating -- Indicates a 1st round candidate
• B Rating -- Indicates a 2nd/3rd round candidate
• C Rating -- Indicates a 4th/5th/6th round candidate
Pats forward Sam Steel is rated as an 'A' prospect. The 17-year-old from Sherwood Park is off to a good start this year with a goal and 2 assists in 2 games played. He says it is good to be recognized. "It's nice to see that you are being noticed but at the same time there is a lot of work to put in and you just have to come to the rink with the same mindset everyday.... We had a little bit of success here so I don't think anything changes. You just gotta work hard and hopefully keep it going."
Adam Berg meanwhile is entering his second year of draft eligibility. He was among the final rankings before the 2015 NHL Draft but was not selected. That being said, Berg says it means a lot to be on the list again. "It's obviously nice to be recognized for this kind of thing. But on the other hand there are still 70 games left to be played so it's a long season. I am just going to do what I can and hopefully stay on that list... I think as the season went on last year I got more confident in by abilities and I started playing really well. Then when I came here (to Regina) I think I played pretty well too. It's obviously nice to get the recognition and now we go from here."
Steel and Berg are two of seven Pats players who are entering their draft years. The others are forwards Luc Smith and Riley Woods and defencemen Nikolai Knyzhov, Jared Freadrich and Brady Pouteau.
Assistant coach and assistant GM Dave Struch says they can help these guys deal with the pressure of their NHL draft years. "It's going to be how they carry themselves. I think with Sam he does have a little bit of pressure on him, he's going to be one of our star players obviously. He's a special kid on and off the ice and will have lots of scouts in the stands watching him every night. And the other guys, we are a young team, there are going to be lots of visuals on our young guys. It's up to us to take that pressure off of them. Give them every opportunity to succeed and be relaxed and play real confident."
There are three Regina Pats who are late birthdays in 1998 and get an extra year before they enter the draft. Lane Zablocki, Jake Elmer and Trygve Many Guns are all born after September 15th.
The 2016 Entry Draft will take place in Buffalo, June 24th and 25th.
- The Pats as a team split their opening home and home series with the Moose Jaw Warriors to start the year. On Saturday in the clubs home opener, I can't overstate how awesome a night it was. From the pre-game barbecue to the opening ceremonies with the pyrotechnics and the video to the game itself, it was just great to be apart of. Huge kudos to the staff in the Pats office who worked a lot of long days to make that night happen. Real impressive.
- For the first time this season the Pats went to 3 on 3 overtime on Saturday night. Sam Steel scored the game winner 1:24 in. It is a completely different game with just 6 players on the ice. The space is what you would expect but in terms of how coaches want their players to play becomes entirely different. Dump ins seem pointless, possession is everything. It's tough to change on the fly without getting caught and a two man forecheck will almost always hurt you. As it hurt the Warriors in the game. There won't be many shootouts this season no doubt.
- Warriors forward Jesse Shynkaruk has been handed a 3 game suspension by the WHL for his checking from behind major on Saturday. The recipient was the Pats James Hilsendager who was luckily ok and remained in the game.
- Lane Zablocki is off to a good start in his WHL career. After scoring in his first ever game on Thursday night. He made a great outlet pass to spring Sam Steel who fed Sergey Zborovskiy for the Pats first goal on Saturday. 2 points in 2 games for the rookie. It's nit just the offense that is impressive, he seems to do a lot of things right away from the puck. He is tough in the defensive zone and makes good decisions. He is going to be a special player.
- Some people have voiced their displeasure with the Pats reassigning goaltender Jordan Hollett to the PJHL earlier this week. Hollett is getting a chance to play in a lot of games and improve his development. If he stays in Regina then he is likely sitting on the bench or in the stands on most nights. The team is excited about Tyler Brown and he will likely be the starter next year so Hollett will go play elsewhere and return next year ready to take on a bigger role. It makes sense to me, plus we may see him before the year is done.
- The Regina Thunder have completed their bye week and now are preparing for the Colts in Calgary on Sunday. Both clubs are 4 and 2 on the season and tied for second place in the PFC. This very well could determine who will host the semi-final playoff matchup in 3 weeks time. A big game at 1 o'clock.
That's all I have for today, have a great week!