Hitmen teach Pats a lesson
Greg Harder, The Leader-Post
Published: Thursday, November 13, 2008
The Regina Pats went toe-to-toe with a legitimate WHL heavyweight on Wednesday, but they couldn't go the distance.
The Calgary Hitmen broke a 2-2 draw with four unanswered goals in the third period en route to a 6-2 knockout win before a sparse crowd of 3,866 at the Brandt Centre.
Calgary, ranked fifth in the country, has now won six straight games and sits atop the WHL standings with a record of 19-4-1-0. Regina (13-7-1-3) lost its hold on first place in the East Division, dropping one point behind the Saskatoon Blades, but learned a valuable lesson in the process.
Pats goaltender Linden Rowat uses his stick to keep one out during WHL action at the Brandt Centre in Regina between the Regina Pats and the Calgary Hitmen on Wednesday night.
Bryan Schlosser, The Leader-Post
"We learned they're the best," head coach Dale Derkatch said of the Hitmen. "That's a good measuring stick. We now know the level we have to play at if we want to compete in this league and do well in the playoffs. That is a very good team over there and they showed us tonight."
Although Calgary dominated from start to finish, the Pats did manage to carry a 2-1 lead into the later stages of the second period despite being outshot 22-9. Regina's luck ran out with 6:17 left in the middle frame when ex-Pat Jason MacDonald potted a weak one on Linden Rowat, who had been brilliant up to that point.
"That played a little bit of a part in (the result)," noted Derkatch. "Even though they had more shots than us, we were fine and Rosie had made some good saves. (A goal like that) could be a little deflating but you have to bounce back from those things. There were 20 minutes (remaining), winner take all, and, well, we didn't do it."
Calgary blew the game open in the third period with goals by Carson McMillan, Brandon Kozun (his second of the night), Brendan Rowinski and Alex Plante. In the final analysis, the 6-2 score could have been worse -- much worse -- considering Regina was outshot by the widest margin this season, 47-20.
"We were getting lucky (to be up 2-1) but they were a wave -- they just kept coming and coming after us," noted Pats captain Victor Bartley. "They're one of the top teams in the country right now and for good reason. They're a very structured team, every single one of their players works hard, their goalie stood on his head. There isn't much more to say about them. They earned everything they got. Their game was almost flawless."
Asked if Regina made the Hitmen look better than they really are, the resounding answer was: "No! They're that good." However, Derkatch didn't believe for a moment that his team can't perform better.
"I think it has a lot to do with effort or lack of effort," said the head coach. "Every guy needs to bring their weight. There's no passengers on the bus. I guess we have to make some moves. We have some other bodies and next game there will be other guys in the lineup. Some guys did not bring their best effort tonight. I don't know why. Maybe they were intimidated by Calgary.
"We have a lot of work to do. That was a good experience for our team."
The Hitmen gave No. 1 goalie Martin Jones a breather, handing the assignment to rookie Michael Snider. He allowed a soft one to Bartley for the first goal of the game, but settled down to pick up an easy win with just 18 saves.
Rowat, who stopped 41 shots, suffered his first regulation loss in 10 games this season (7-1-1-1). Michael MacAngus had the other goal for the Pats, who are to conclude a five-game homestand on Friday against the Seattle Thunderbirds.
EXTRAS: LW Neal Prokop, acquired Monday from Moose Jaw for G Jeff Bosch, made his Pats' debut on the third line with C Mitch Czibere and RW Garrett Mitchell. Prokop appeared to be knocked loopy by a crushing open-ice hit from Ian Schultz in the first period but he was OK to return ... Pats C Dominick Favreau and G prospect Derek Tendler were named Wednesday to Team West for this year's World Under-17 Hockey Challenge ... Regina's scratches Wednesday were Favreau (healthy), D Justin Slobozian (healthy) and RW Cody Hanson (shoulder).
© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2008