Leader-Post article (Pats exhibit life)February 17 2009 at 7:25 AM
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|N. W. Bruin (Login NW_Bruin_GM)|
Pats exhibit life
By Greg Harder, The Leader-PostFebruary 17, 2009
Chalk up another head-scratcher for Team Enigma.
The Regina Pats added a new layer to one of the WHL's biggest mysteries on Saturday night when they went eye-to-eye with the No. 2 team in the CHL and didn't blink until the last four minutes of the game, eventually settling for a 5-2 loss to the Calgary Hitmen in front of 4,730 fans at the Brandt Centre.
Despite the outcome -- which extended Regina's season-high losing streak to seven games -- it was one of the club's better performances in several weeks. It also provided some ammunition for head coach Dale Derkatch, who has been trying everything under the sun to pry the requisite effort out of his underachieving team.
"Anything other than that effort (the rest of the way) is unacceptable," insisted Derkatch. "Anything less than that, we are going to get criticized. I understand the fans and their feelings because if they see that (effort versus Calgary), why not against every team? The only difference, bottom line, is effort. If we had that effort (Friday) night, I think our result would have been different."
Derkatch was referring to his team's 4-2 loss one night earlier to the Moose Jaw Warriors, who sit dead-last in the Eastern Conference standings.
The outcome begs an obvious question: How do the Pats drop the ball against a supposed inferior team and rise to the challenge against a superior club?
Derkatch feels the difference is purely mental -- Friday's matchup was a game Regina was supposed to win whereas there was no such expectation on Saturday. There-fore, the pressure and anxiety was gone as well.
"People were thinking we were going to lose and get blown out," he noted. "I didn't think so. I thought we were going to play a good game. That's a character thing. They were playing free and relaxed. Against Moose Jaw: Tight, tentative. It's a mental thing the players have to fix. It shouldn't matter who the opponent is. You play hard and give your best effort."
The Pats did just that on Saturday, but still lost.
Brandon Kozun sealed the Pats' fate when he scored two goals, including the game-winner at 6:45 of the third period. Paul Postma added a crucial insurance marker with 3:56 left and Carson McMillan rounded out the scoring with his second of the night into an empty net.
Mitch Czibere and Jordan Eberle, who notched his 30th of the season and 100th of his WHL career, scored for the Pats. Pats goalie Linden Rowat stopped 34 of 38 shots but was outduelled by Martin Jones, who stopped 31 of 33.
"We know they're a good team over there," offered Kozun, whose team picked up its league-leading 50th win of the season. "They are struggling a little bit right now but they're a dangerous team if they can pull together, which is a scary thing because they have some good tools. I was thinking to myself (after the game), 'They're a good team.' I don't know how they would be that far down (the standings)."
EXTRAS: The Pats were without LW Matt Robertson, who was a healthy scratch after missing curfew ... The Pats and Warriors are to meet again this Friday at the Brandt Centre.
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