|Voice of the Pats Phil Andrews|
- Well the Pats are headed back to the post season for a third consecutive year. The club watched on Saturday as the Swift Current Broncos won in Medicine Hat to secure the Pats' playoff berth. This will also be the fourth time in five years the team has gone to the playoffs.
Who they will play is yet to be determined with six games left in the regular season. If the playoffs started today the Pats would play the Central Division leading Lethbridge Hurricanes. However, Red Deer is just three points back and could win the division. On the other hand the Hurricanes could finish hot and take the number one seed in the conference and then the Pats would play Brandon. Regina can also still catch Moose Jaw who sits six points ahead but the Pats do have a game in hand which they will spend tonight in Swift Current. With a win tonight the Pats would be four points back and would set up a massive home and home series with the Warriors on Friday at the Brandt Centre and Saturday in Moose Jaw. It's a race to the finish and should be a lot of fun to watch.
- Seeing a lot of comments from people who have given up on the Pats as a result of Sunday's 8-1 loss to the Brandon Wheat Kings. Yes it was a tough game for the club who were far from their best. However can we take a step back and not write this team off simply because of one game. Here are my reasons why: 1.) The team was playing their 14th game in 24 days and had not had consecutive days off of game action. 2.) The Pats dominated and beat the Wheat Kings 5-2 just three weeks ago. 3.) Sunday aside, even in the losses, this team has been playing their best hockey of the year. It's incredible to me how some people, and I know it's not the majority of fans, have completely written off the future of this team after a one tough loss. From where I sit, it looks incredibly bright.
- The Pats are in Swift Current tonight for their fifth of six meetings between the two clubs. It's been a fun season series so far with both teams winning twice in the first two. The Broncos have outscored Regina 12-11 in the first four games, three of which have gone past regulation. Swift may be on the outside looking in come playoff time but they are a good hockey team. They are big, work incredibly hard and can skate. Should be another good one tonight.
- Cole Sanford is the other guy who just keeps producing. Sanford has 5 goals in his last three games and the goals he are scoring are just incredible. It's amazing how a guy who is so small in stature can just rip the puck and put it in spots where no goaltender has a sniff of stopping it. Sanford has 17 goals already in his Pats career which is just 24 games old and he has 11 assists as well. What an addition he has been. The second line is dangerous with him on the wing and the powerplay is at it's peak having scored in 11 of the Past last 12 games. Sanford has 15 powerplay goals on the year which is tied for the WHL lead.
- The WHL playoff picture is still quite a cloudy one. Sure the Eastern Conference's eight teams are all but set in stone but the matchups could go a number of ways. The Central Division crown could very well be decided this weekend when the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Red Deer Rebels meet in a home and home set. That will be incredible to watch, the Hurricanes have owned the Rebels so far this year with a 4-0-0-0 record. The Medicine Hat Tigers are the lone team that has a chance at catching Edmonton for the final playoff spot. They sit 6 points back of the Oil Kings with 6 games left. A lot needs to happen for Med Hat but it's possible.
Out west things are crazy tight. Victoria and Kelowna will go down to the wire for the B.C. Division title. Then Prince George is just three points ahead of Kamloops for 3rd. Seattle is just four points ahead of Everett atop the U.S. Division and Spokane just a point back of Portland for 3rd spot. There are four teams with between 65 and 70 points with just three playoff spots available. That race is crazy good.
- Good luck to the Regina Pat Canadians tonight as they head to Wilcox for game 2 of their SMAAAHL semi-final series with the Notre Dame Hounds tonight. The Pat C's dropped game 1 at home, 4-1 to the Hounds on Monday evening.
- Big congrats to former Regina Pats Logan McVeigh and Tyler Borstmayer and the rest of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies who captured the 2016 CWUAA title with a sweep of the Alberta Golden Bears on the weekend. The U of S now heads to the CIS University Cup from March 17th-20th.
- Be sure to catch tonight's episode of Pats TV on Access 7. My guests this week are defenceman Connor Hobbs, forward Aaron Macklin and assistant coach Brad Herauf.
Talk to you from the rink tonight, have a great week!