Pats teeter on the edge
By Greg Harder, The Leader-Post
February 11, 2010 5:12 AM
Calgary Hitmen forward Cody Sylvester (16) has a leg up on Regina Pats forward Cass Mappin during first-period WHL action at the Brandt Centre on Wednesday.Photograph by: Don Healy, The Leader-Post, The Leader-Post
The Aerosmith tune 'Living on the Edge' often blares through the sound system at the Brandt Centre following a visitor's goal.
It's an appropriate theme song for the Regina Pats, whose teetering playoff hopes became even more dubious on Wednesday night with a 6-2 loss to the Calgary Hitmen in front of 5,527 WHL spectators.
It was Regina's fourth straight game against the cream of the crop in the Eastern Conference, a slate which also included the Kootenay Ice, Saskatoon Blades and Brandon Wheat Kings. The Pats knocked off the first two but dropped back-to-back 6-2 decisions to Brandon and Calgary at a time when they could ill afford a letdown.
"We have to get our heads out of our asses or else we'll be going home pretty soon," offered Pats captain Colten Teubert, who emerged from the dressing room after a lengthy players-only meeting. "Individually we called ourselves out. We have to be accountable to ourselves first and not really point fingers because we have to be a tight-knit group and continue to work. Our season is not over yet."
But it could be soon.
"It's more disappointing the way we didn't compete," said defenceman Mitch McColm. "We know how important every point is. Efforts like that against a good team aren't going to cut it. We know that. It's disappointing and it's frustrating but we need to right the ship within our room. The guys all know that (effort) was unacceptable. There's accountability in the dressing room so we just have to look forward and not let any more games slip away because time is pretty much almost out."
The Pats actually started strong Tuesday and more-than held their own in a relatively even first period which included killing off a two-man advantage for 50 seconds. But the Hitmen found another gear early in the second frame, jumping out to a 3-0 lead on consecutive goals by Brandon Kozun and another from Misha Fisenko, who also set up the first two markers.
Hampus Gustafsson replied for the Pats, but Kozun completed his hat trick to make it 4-1 after two periods.
Regina's Carter Ashton potted his 23rd of the season in the third period, but it was sandwiched between markers from Rigby Burgart and Tyler Fiddler, helping the Hitmen cruise to victory.
"I liked our first period ... we did a lot of good things," said Pats head coach Curtis Hunt, whose team was outshot 38-35. "I thought (the Hitmen) took their game up a level and we got standing around. Then we stopped executing the little plays. We had guys not pay the price in tough areas, we lost coverage and the next thing you know we're chasing the game again."
That's not all they're chasing.
The Pats temporarily remained five points behind the Moose Jaw Warriors, pending a late result against the Spokane Chiefs. The Swift Current Broncos picked up a point with a 2-1 shootout loss in Saskatoon to move into a tie with Moose Jaw for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference.
"It's a tough situation," added Teubert, whose team has just 14 games left. "It's going to come down to every one of the guys in our dressing room. If we want it, we can have it. It's right in front of us. After tonight, we're throwing it away so we have to get back on track.
"We don't quit. I think everyone in our dressing room still believes or else they wouldn't be here right now."
EXTRAS: Regina lost D Cody Carson after taking a shot to the head in the second period. He's day to day. So is RW Garrett Mitchell, who sat out with concussion-like symptoms after a taking a hit during Tuesday's 6-2 loss in Brandon ... Hitmen goalie Martin Jones picked up the win. Damien Ketlo took the loss ... The Pats are slated to hit the road on the weekend for games Friday in Red Deer and Saturday in Edmonton.
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