Marco Creta launched himself into the arms of teammate Bryan Lockner after scoring his first WHL goal Friday night.
And if that weren’t exciting enough for the 17-year-old rookie, it was the game winner.
“It was surreal, when I saw the puck go in I just didn’t know what to do. It was amazing,” the five-feet-nine-inches tall Creta enthused after the 5-3 win.
“He’s been a very good player for us,” Paddock said. “Undersized but very competitive, physically competitive. Skilled, sees the ice, skates pretty well. There’s not a lot not to like about him.”
The younger members of the Pats defence, like Creta, had to step up in a big way against the Victoria Royals with assistant captain Josh Mahura and Egor Zamula out of the line-up.
Mahura was injured Wednesday against the Wheat Kings but was close to playing Friday night. Zamula was under the weather.
Head coach John Paddock was impressed by the effort all around.
“They did a really good job, it’s defending but it’s really not about defending as much as we did the best job we did all year advancing the puck,” he said.
At the start of the third period, the Pats were down on the Royal 3-1, but scored four goals – including an empty-netter by Jonathan Smart – to seal it in the final minute of the game.
Matt Bradley scored twice in the effort and Bryan Lockner also found the back of the net for the Pats’ second goal of the night.
Paddock gave props to the Royals for strong, fast play and said he was proud of his players for their effort from beginning to end.
“I think we were playing that way from the start basically, I think our game was really good right from the start and (we) just kept at it,” he said.
“If we had played like that in the third and lost I (still) would have been saying the same thing.”
As for Creta, he still hasn’t decided what to do with the puck from his first goal, but his parents were in attendance for the first time this season, so it could go to them.
“You always want to perform in front of your parents, it was a good night,” he said.
- Marco Creta, Regina Pats (1 goal, 1 assist)
- Matt Bradley, Regina Pats (2 goals)
- Jared Freadrich, Victoria Royals (1 goal, 1 assist)