It will be all hands on deck for the Regina Pats as they get set to open a long stretch of nine games away from the Brandt Centre.
For the first time this year, the Pats will have the full lineup at their disposal, with defenceman Connor Hobbs returning from injury and forward Aaron Macklin back from suspension.
“Winning on the road is pretty tough regardless. Especially when you’re down (because of) injuries, it’s always tougher,” said captain Colby Williams.
“Getting (Macklin) and (Hobbs) back will certainly help this road trip.”
Both Hobbs and Macklin missed the last five games. Macklin was suspended for a high hit against the Moose Jaw Warriors on Halloween night.
At this point, it’s not known if Hobbs will be playing with Williams, who was his partner from last season, but also returned just three games ago after suffering an arm injury over the summer.
“It’s been tough to watch your own team play, that’s for sure. But, we’ve been doing well, that always makes it easier,” said the 17-year-old.
Hobbs also feels it’s better to be back with his teammates while the team is playing well. The Pats will be trying to win their fourth game in a row on Friday night.
For the time being, the Pats plan on going forward with the 24 players currently on their roster.
Rookie forward Riley Woods was reassigned to his midget AAA team the Regina Pat Canadians earlier this week.
With a full and healthy lineup for the first time this year, the team’s coaches are now facing a new challenge.
Some players who have been used to playing will now have to sit more than they would like to and wait their turn.
“We’ve talked about that with them yesterday. We have lots of good healthy bodies around. So, there’s good competition. They’ve been developing a good team concept. They got a big challenge to become an even better team when there’s lots of bodies around,” said John Paddock.
“That’s the challenge, to be a team. When you’re not playing, you’re caring more about the guy beside you that might score three goals that night and it might be in your spot. They got a good challenge to become even more of a team then they’ve been showing, which is really good lately, with pressure and competition on jobs.”
The full complement of players also gives the coaching staff more options to deal with players who may be struggling at any given time.
The Pats are in Brandon on Friday night and then travel to Prince Albert on Saturday. Their next game at home is on Dec. 9 against the Calgary Hitmen.