The Regina Pats may have been bounced from the playoffs early, but that doesn’t mean they’ve taken their eyes off the prize.
The Memorial Cup hosts have 44 days until their next game and head coach John Paddock plans to make the most of all of them both on and off the ice.
“They’ll be days that are very, very hard but rest is a weapon and we’ll use it as that,” Paddock said on Wednesday afternoon at the Brandt Centre.
In that vein, the players are in the midst of a week off after their 3-2 loss to Swift Current Monday night. Many of them opted to use that time to go home and visit their families.
“I think there’s there mental break needed just going through a season and the playoffs and then there’s the mental break to prepare for the Memorial Cup,” Paddock said, adding he thinks the break will be beneficial for the players.
And, to a certain extent, the break will continue when they return with a variety of off-ice activities mixed in with on-ice practices.
Especially early on, Paddock said the on-ice stuff will look a lot different than their regular season and playoff practices, though he stresses that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. He said emphatically that his players will be in better than game shape by the time the Memorial Cup tournament rolls around.
Last year’s hosts, the Windsor Spitfires were also eliminated in their first round match up and they came back to win the whole thing.
Paddock said comparisons to the Windsor team were irrelevant, but he’s confident his players have it in them to be successful in the tournament and he’s not concerned with the naysayers.
“We’re as good as a team as there is in the west. I just had a couple scouts say there is no comparison in the games watching Swift Current and us and Moose Jaw and Prince Albert … I really don’t care what other people think, we’re going into the tournament to win it.”
The Pats are expected to retake the ice on April 12.
- Libor Hajek (concussion) begged to play in the game Monday but wasn’t quite ready. He’s at home in the Czech Republic now but should be cleared by the time he returns to practice next week.
- Emil Oksanen missed game 7 with severe flu symptoms.
- Jesse Gabrielle (ankle) and Max Paddock (groin) will both be back to full strength well before the Memorial Cup.