Nothing usually overshadows a Saskatchewan Roughriders game in this province — even a CFL preseason game. But the Riders’ preseason loss in Edmonton on Sunday was way below the interest generated by the home-town Regina Pats’ chance to end a 44-year Memorial Cup drought.
Despite a flawed format that allowed the hosts a six-week rest and a bye into the four-team tournament, the Pats advanced to the final against Acadie-Bathurst Titan (ABT), Quebec’s junior hockey champions.
Another stellar performance by rookie goalie Max Paddock kept the Pats in contention, but tournament MVP Sam Steel and the solid squad assembled by coach/GM John Paddock couldn’t beat Titan goalie Evan Fitzpatrick in ABT’s 3-0 victory.
The Pats and the Memorial Cup are each 100 years old. The Pats have appeared 16 times in the Memorial Cup, more than any team. They last won in 1974. There just aren’t that many opportunities to get there. Win your league or be the hosts. The Pats certainly proved they belonged. And Acadie-Bathurst proved it was the best team in the tournament.