The Regina Pats were tantalizingly close to ending their long championship drought.
The Pats haven’t won a Memorial Cup since 1974, when Dennis Sobchuk, Clark Gillies and Ed Staniowski were the stars. They haven’t won a league championship since 1980, when Doug Wickenheiser, Mike Blaisdell and Darren Veitch hoisted the trophy. Canada’s oldest junior team has produced great players and people, but it’s gone too long without a title.
Offensively skilled, fun to watch and full of desire, this year’s Pats lost the WHL championship series in six games to the Seattle Thunderbirds. The T-Birds were a little more tenacious and hungry, having lost last year’s league final to the Brandon Wheat Kings.
The Pats will undergo a transition in the offseason. Adam Brooks, Chase Harrison and Dawson Leedahl graduate from junior. Others may get summoned by their pro teams, but the Pats get a hosting bye into next year’s Memorial Cup. And there will be enough holdovers next season to remind them what Seattle learned this year: losing can be a great motivator.