Coming into the long weekend the Pats had lost all five games they had played against the league-leading Moose Jaw Warriors, but that streak ended with not one but two weekend wins.
“I think it says our record doesn’t show how good we really are. The confidence is building in (the locker room),” said assistant captain Matt Bradley, who notched a goal in Sunday night’s 4-2 win.
The Pats and the Warriors squared off in three straight games this week, and with the exception of a short spirt in the game on Wednesday, Regina was able to stand toe-to-toe with their Highway 1 rivals in all three games.
It seems, after months of trying to build chemistry and learn more about one another this team – who brought in a plethora of new players at the trade deadline – is finally finding its identity.
“Since all the trades I just think we’re hitting and missing and I said before I don’t think it’s unusual … what it comes down to is the team just coming together. That sounds like just a certain line but it really is,” head coach John Paddock said.
It was something Paddock didn’t have to worry about with last year’s Pats since the bulk of them had played together for three years and had grown up as friends and teammates. That trust doesn’t just build overnight, Paddock explained.
“It has taken time and it’s something we talk about or try to work on regularly.”
And Bradley said it’s starting to click.
“Just (our) growth and guys taking pride and ownership in their roles … they’re all bought in. Everyone is happy for the next guy beside them,” he said.
That translated to an on-ice chemistry that saw the Pats bounce back from an early Warriors goal, fight back after they tied it up late in the second and take a stranglehold of the game in the third to win it.
Jayden Halbgewachs scored his league-leading 55th goal to open the scoring up at the Brandt Centre Sunday afternoon.
The Pats took a 1-0 deficit into the first intermission but came out flying in the second with Emil Oksanen potting a rebound to tie things up at one.
Then Sam Steel faked out Brody Wilms by taking the puck past him, then tucking it in behind the goaltender to give his team a 2-1 lead.
In the dying minutes of a physical period, Brett Howden was able to even up the score at two with just 16 seconds left, but the late goal didn’t get the Pats down.
Regina honed in during the third period with Cale Fleury getting one past Wilms halfway through and less than two minutes later Matt Bradley netted a beauty set up perfectly by Josh Mahura from the Pats end and Oksanen near the blue line.
Moose Jaw pulled its goalie with about two minutes left for the extra attacker, but the Pats pulled it out in front of the Homecoming Weekend crowd to put an exclamation point on the 100th-anniversary celebrations.
And it’s coming together just in time for the Pats, who with the win Sunday have moved into third place in the east division while the Wheat Kings – who have held on to third pretty firmly all season – are in the first wild-card spot.
Playoffs begin in about a month.
The Pats are back in action on Monday against the Prince Albert Raiders.
- Cale Fleury, Regina Pats (1 goal, 2 assists)
- Jayden Halbgewachs, Moose Jaw Warriors (1 goal, 1 assist)
- Emil Oksanen, Regina Pats (1 goal, 1 assist)