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Leader-Post article (Pats fall asleep at the wheel against T-Birds)

November 13 2010 at 9:52 AM
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N. W. Bruin  (Login NW_Bruin_GM)

Response to Calgary Herald article (Hitmen's losing streak grows to 11)

Pats fall asleep at the wheel against T-Birds

By Greg Harder, Leader-Post

November 13, 2010

Leader-Post / Regina Pats' Mikael Jung (right) scores on Seattle Thunderbirds netminder Calvin Pickard on Friday at the Brandt Centre.

Photograph by: Don Healy, Leader-Post

The Seattle Thunderbirds are nearing the end of a long road trip, but they still had enough left in the tank to speed past the Regina Pats.

Leading 4-1 late in the second period, the Pats took their foot off the gas and ended up sucking fumes as the Thunderbirds scored four straight goals en route to a 5-4 win before a season-high paid attendance of 5,150 at the Brandt Centre.

"It really stings to drop one like that at home," offered Pats left-winger Carter Ashton, who scored twice. "We have to learn how to play with a lead. With a younger team, one of the things that's natural to do with a lead like that is sit back but you want to do the opposite. We didn't do that. At times we pressed but we pressed a little too late. It's a combination of things but staying on the gas is the biggest thing."

The Thunderbirds, who visit Regina just once every two years, are somewhat of a mystery in the Eastern Conference but goalie Calvin Pickard is the furthest thing from a well-kept secret.

The Pats responded accordingly by making life difficult for the blue-chip puckstopper, driving to the net with some rare tenacity while taking a three-goal lead. All four of those markers -- two by Ashton and one each by Mikael Jung and Colin Reddin -- were a result of rebounds or deflections as the Pats created traffic in front.

That gameplan was nothing new for the T-Birds.

"Everybody tries to throw everything at our net and get there and take extra pokes," said head coach Rob Sumner. "We're pretty used to that."

"You have to (do it)," added Pats head coach Curtis Hunt. "There's no questioning his talent. You saw him in the third, they had 13 shots and three goals; we had 14 but we didn't have the same (determination) to get in front of him or get traffic. You have to play with courage for 60 minutes. We were on the perimeter (in the third) and wanted to play a light game and this is what happens."

Seattle began to chip away at the lead while taking a page out of Regina's playbook, creating havoc in Damien Ketlo's crease. As a result, Burke Gallimore made it 4-2 on the power play late in the second period, then Colin Jacobs tied it up in the third with back-to-back goals coming just 3:43 apart. Charles Wells added the game-winner with 5:40 remaining.

"I thought we were a little flat in the first part (of the game)," said Sumner. "To give them credit, they were pretty darn good. They were difficult to play against. That's all we had to do, was be a little more difficult to play against. You get it to 4-2 and it's all about the next goal. We thought we could really put the pressure on them. We were able to make it 4-3 and momentum can shift at that point. We just kept plugging away."

In the end, it was an all-too familiar storyline for Hunt.

"We just need to wake up," said the veteran bench boss, whose team outshot Seattle 42-32. "We had two real good periods, good pressure, we were physical. Then you could see it at the end of the second period, our D are trying to handle pucks out of the zone. In the third our D are trying to handle pucks into the zone instead of just getting things deep. Forwards are not committed to getting back. We're getting beat up ice. It's so frustrating because when we play (a certain style) we can play with anybody. I think we've shown that. We've shown me, but maybe they just don't believe it."

EXTRAS: There was a 10-minute pre-game ceremony as part of First Nations and Metis Awareness Night. The City of Regina purchased 1,200 tickets for underprivileged youth ... Each of Regina's first two goals were upheld by video review ... Ex-Saskatoon Blade Travis Toomey scored the first goal for Seattle (9-4-2-3) ... The Pats (6-11-2-1) will hit the road for a game tonight against the Medicine Hat Tigers before returning home for a rare Monday meeting with the Brandon Wheat Kings.

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