It was smiles all around Friday night at the Brandt Centre as the Regina Pats broke a nine-game losing streak in front of a hometown crowd.
The Pats’ last win came on Nov. 20 on their western division road trip against the Kamloops Blazers. Since then, it’s been a series of almosts with the team not being able to hold on to a lead or losing by a single goal.
That changed against the Moose Jaw Warriors. The Pats were able to hold on to a 2-1 lead through the third period for the win.
“We got some saves, big time saves at the right time of the game and it helped us continue with the momentum,” head coach Dave Struch said.
Goaltender Dean McNabb had a solid night in net allowing just one goal four minutes into the second period and making all eight of the necessary saves in the third period to hold on to the victory. He made a total of 26 saves in a game where Regina was outshot 27-18.
“It’s awesome, I mean, just the look on the players’ faces – you see the relief, how happy they were when the game was done,” said forward Austin Pratt. “We’ve been playing so good ever since that Edmonton game, even before … every game since then I felt like we should have won. Just to finally get that win and not give up any goals in the third – it’s even better.”
In fact, all of the game’s scoring happened in the second period. Moose Jaw led things off when Kaeden Taphorn found the back of the net on the powerplay to make it 1-0.
It was Riley Krane for the Pats who found the net next collecting a costly turnover on the goal line by the Warriors and putting it past Adam Evanoff to even the score.
Then the real excitement came when Jadon Joseph found rookie Steven Zonneveld on the stretch pass as he left the penalty box allowing him to fire in his first WHL goal – which would become the game-winner. It was a big celebration for the six-feet three-inch tall defenceman whose linemates swarmed him after the goal.
“I haven’t had that experience before getting the stretch pass out of the box so (it was) new territory for me but I think I did a pretty good job on it,” Zonneveld grinned as he explained how the play unfolded.
“It felt great out there and to get the first one out of the way feels good and (also) to do it at home,” he added.
It was a well-timed goal and a well-timed win too, according to Struch who watched his team work hard game in and game out without being rewarded for it.
“We talked about it yesterday in the office. It’s going to come at the right time for us. I think it is the right time … we needed to see the hard work pay off and they deserved it tonight,” he said.
“The second period I really thought our intensity picked up for sure,” Struch added. “We started playing the right way, we started playing harder and then in the third period, I thought our guys came out wanting to win.”
The Pats travel to Moose Jaw Saturday before their final game before Christmas break.
- Austin Pratt, Regina Pats
- Tristan Langan, Moose Jaw Warriors
- Dean McNabb, Regina Pats