Regina Pats head coach John Paddock did not mince words ahead of the team’s first practice after their American road trip.
“Our best players have better get going, that’s clear,” Paddock said.
The Pats struggled on their five-game trip through the U.S. winning just one of them. They returned barely above .500 with a 13-12 record and sitting in seventh place. All this in a year when the team is hosting the league championship.
Defenceman and assistant captain Josh Mahura said the message to the team right now is not to panic.
“It’s still not even December yet here and we still have a lot of work to do this season and we know it so just trying to stay positive with the group of guys there,” he said but added they are struggling in certain areas.
“Special teams have been an issue for us since day one,” he said.
And his coach’s frustration with the powerplay and penalty kill was evident Wednesday afternoon.
“When you kill penalties at 62 percent rate that’s atrocious. When you play five games and have one powerplay goal and it’s five on three, so that makes it at 4.7 percent that’s atrocious,” Paddock said.
“When your best players aren’t going you have no chance,” he added.
The Pats are in tough in a division that has been shining all around them. The Moose Jaw Warriors are the first team in the WHL to hit 20 wins and sit atop the league.
Further down Highway 1 the Swift Current Broncos sit in fourth and have three of the top five point-getters in the league right now.
“We don’t overly think about that, we try to focus on us, but it’s tough to ignore what they’re doing,” Mahura said.
Paddock even pointed to the Saskatoon Blades, who are behind the Pats in the standings, but finding ways to win.
“Saskatoon goes out there with a 16-year-old goalie and they win 5-2 last night. Their two goalies on the trip are 15-years-old and 16-years-old so we’re clearly not performing on an individual basis to the level that they’re supposed to,” he said.
Now that they’re back home for a couple days, the Pats are looking to rebound as they head back on the road this weekend to Red Deer and Calgary, knowing they can salvage a long road trip if they string together a couple of wins.
Most importantly, they’re trying not to get too far ahead of themselves. After all, the Memorial Cup is six months away.
“You want to be where you’re supposed to be in May right now … but we know there’s a process and we know there’s a lot of work to do,” Mahura said.