|Voice of the Pats Phil Andrews|
- What a couple of weeks it has been for the Regina Pats. Three weeks ago I wrote about the struggle for consistency for this team but since then, they have found some. The club won two of three over the weekend and has five victories in their last seven games. The club has played very well in all of those contests aside from the loss in Saskatoon three weekends ago. It comes at a perfect time, building some momentum towards the post season. Monday's win in Swift Current snapped a 5 game road losing streak for the Pats, they will look to make it two straight on the road tonight in Prince Albert.
- Tyler Brown has been a big part of the success. The 18-year-old Winnipeg product has five appearances in the month of February and his numbers are outstanding. He holds a 4-0-0-0 record with a 1.94 goals against average and a .942 save percentage. Brown has won 6 of his last 8 starts and is playing his best hockey of his WHL career.
- The Pats scoring has come from more than just the Adam Brooks line as well. Yes Brooks along with Austin Wagner and lane Zablocki have continued to contribute with goals but the teams so called 'second' line of Sam Steel, Cole Sanford and Sean Richards is producing at the same level. Steel is riding a six game point streak with 2 goals and 7 assists. Sanford has points in 4 straight, 4 goals and 5 assists and Richards has points in 5 of his last 6 games with 2 goals and 4 assists. Steel has matched his career high in point totals from last year now with 54 points and done it in 6 less games.
- Sergey Zborovskiy is playing his best hockey of the season on the Pats back end. The New York Rangers prospect was a little up and down for the first half of the year but has turned things around. yes he scored a big goal in Swift on Monday afternoon and that's a bonus but his defensive game is where he is thriving. In the last three weeks he is regularly making smart plays below his goalline, turning up ice and starting the breakout with ease. Add in Connor Hobbs return on the backend and the Pats have put together some really strong defensive efforts over this hot streak.
- The Pats may get forward Adam Berg back from his upper-body injury tonight in Prince Albert against the Raiders. Berg has missed the last 7 games but Head Coach and GM John Paddock said Tuesday that Berg "Will play soon."
- The playoff picture has the Past sitting in the 1st wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference with 18 games left on their schedule. They are 9 points back of the Moose Jaw Warriors for 3rd in the East Division with three games in hand. They are two points ahead of the Edmonton Oil Kings who are in the second wildcard spot and the Oil Kings have played two more games. The closest team outside the playoffs are the Swift Current Broncos, they are 8 points back of Edmonton and 10 points back of Regina. It seems at this point, the Broncos are the only team with a chance to push for a spot in the post season. The Medicine Hat Tigers have lost 8 straight and are 11 points back while Saskatoon has just two wins in their last 10 and are 13 points behind Edmonton.
- The Moose Jaw Warriors Dryden Hunt is on an absolute tear. The former Regina Pats forward was named the WHL's Player of the Week on Monday. You might want to sit down for this, Hunt has 12 goals, TWELVE, to go along with 5 assists in his last five games. He leads the WHL with 45 goals and 93 points. What an unbelievable stretch, safe to say he has earned himself a pro contract once this season concludes.
- The Kelowna Rockets were dealt quite a blow yesterday. They announced Arizona Coyotes first round pick Nick Merkley is done for the season with a torn ACL. Add that to starting goaltender Jackson Whistle being out long term and that's two massive pieces for a team looking to repeat as WHL champions. Whistle is rumoured to be done for the season as well. It;s a tough loss for a team in such a tight Western Conference. Even just in their division, the Victoria Royals have won 8 of their last 10 and are just 3 points back. The Rockets do however have a lot of depth, you never know. It did just get harder though that's for sure.
- The Red Deer Rebels are also dealing with some key injuries. Yes they got Luke Philp into the lineup last night but their starting goaltender Rylan Toth is out indefinitely with a lower body injury that head coach and GM Brent Sutter called "not good." Avalanche 1st rounder Connor Bleackley is also out indefinitely with a lower body injury. As well Reese Johnson is out 3-5 weeks with an upper-body ailment. Tough times for the Memorial Cup hosts but they've got time before the playoffs start.
- On to the NBA All-Star Weekend. I didn't watch the actual game but the slam dunk contest was incredible. Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic and Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves put on an absolute show. I was on the edge of my seat watching the whole thing replayed on Sunday afternoon. If you haven't seen the dunks, do yourself a favor and watch them on YouTube.
- Tonight's episode of Pats TV will feature forwards Sam Steel and Jake Leschyshyn as well as defenceman Jared Freadrich. It all gets underway at 6:30 only on Access 7.
That's it from me today, talk to you from the rink tonight.