Pats hope to pump up power-play prowess
Greg Harder, The Leader-Post
Published: Saturday, October 04, 2008
The Regina Pats gave their struggling offence a jolt on Wednesday, but they're still waiting for the official power surge.
Despite lighting the lamp seven times in a 7-3 win over the Moose Jaw Warriors, Regina's power-play unit has yet to break out. After five games, the WHL club has scored just twice on 28 chances for a 7.1 per cent success rate (ranked 19th in the league).
The good news?
Although the Pats went just 1-for-10 with the man advantage against Moose Jaw, they did score twice just as penalties expired and, on a third occasion, only 10 seconds after the fact.
"The players were upset that we got ripped off a couple percentage points," head coach Dale Derkatch said with a laugh. "Personally I was just happy we were scoring goals and getting lots of great chances. You're going to have great power-play games and you're going to have games when it isn't going to work. A big part (on Wednesday) was establishing some shots from the point. That opens up things down low. Once you get the defensive players moving up to the top it spreads everyone out and you get more chances."
Leading 5-3, rookie Jordan Weal scored on Regina's eighth power play at 8:18 of the third period to put the game away, but it could have been over sooner. The Pats opened the third period with a two-man advantage for 1:42, but squandered the opportunity.
"The main thing is we didn't give up," said right-winger Jordan Eberle. "After we got a two-goal lead we kept playing our game and got another two and kind of took over. The biggest thing is we have to be more disciplined. Early in the game we got into a bit of penalty trouble but our penalty kill was another (positive) thing that we came out with."
The Pats went a combined 0-for-9 on the power play in their opening two games of the regular season -- both losses to the Brandon Wheat Kings. The lack of early production wasn't a huge surprise considering Regina was without four veteran skaters due to NHL training camps. With them back, the Pats have gone just 2-for-19, but they've looked better than the stats show.
"I think it's coming along," said Derkatch. "I think that's a little bit of having guys (back) in practice together."
The Pats, who have been working regularly to fine-tune their power play, had another refresher Friday in preparation for tonight's meeting with the Wheat Kings. Regina has shown excellent puck movement at times, especially since Eberle and Weal joined forces on the No. 1 unit.
"He has adapted very good," Eberle said of Weal. "It's fun playing with him. He's kind of a similar player to me in that we just kind of cycle down low. It makes the game a lot easier."
The Pats are also adjusting to the absence of graduated defenceman Logan Pyett, one of the WHL's premier power-play quarterbacks. Victor Bartley is now anchoring the back end along with either Matt Delahey or Colten Teubert, both of whom saw limited power-play time last season.
When all the pieces come together, the Pats believe they have the makings of a productive unit.
"Last year we had an unbelievable power play," noted Eberle. "We know first-hand how much of an asset it is for you, especially on the road where it's tough to score five on five. When you get an opportunity on the power play you have to capitalize.
"I think we're doing fine," he added. "It's not like we're doing the wrong things out there, we're just not getting it done quick enough. We're not worried about it. We're getting shots. I think that was our biggest problem coming into the game. We weren't getting enough shots and we weren't getting guys in front of the net to screen. I thought (Wednesday) we did that pretty good and we capitalized on it."
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RED DEER (3-2-0-1) at REGINA (1-2-0-2)
Sunday, 6 p.m., Brandt Centre
(Statistics do not include Friday's games.)
Radio: 620 CKRM
Key injuries: Regina -- C Mitch Czibere (knee, indefinite), RW Brett Leffler (concussion, 1-2 weeks), RW Kyle Mulder (hip, 1-2 weeks); Red Deer -- RW Josh Cowen (concussion, day-to-day), LW Cody Esposito (foot, day-to-day), LW Connor Redmond (shoulder, indefinite), D Justin Weller (leg, 1 week).
Overview: The Rebels, who posted the worst record in the Eastern Conference last season (18-47-4-3), are off to a solid start under rookie head coach Jesse Wallin . . . Sophomore sniper Landon Ferraro, 17, was leading Red Deer with eight points after six games . . . The Rebels have re-called RW Brett Miller, 17, from the SJHL's Battlefords North Stars. Miller was acquired last season from Regina along with F Cody Gross for C Scott Doucet and RW J.D. Watt. Miller was Regina's first pick (14th overall) in the 2006 bantam draft . . . Gross, 19, had three goals and one assist in his first six games this season . . . The Rebels are without captain Brandon Sutter, 19, who is expected to play for the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes this season . . . Red Deer will be playing its third game in three nights on Sunday. The Rebels met the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday night and are slated to challenge the Moose Jaw Warriors tonight. The Pats and Wheat Kings are to clash tonight in Brandon.
© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2008