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Happy Wednesday Everybody!
HERE WE GO AGAIN! - The Pats are right back at it tonight, playing their 9th game in 15 days when they host the Kootenay Ice. The Pats are 6-3-0-0 in those 9 and sit seven points back of Moose Jaw for the third spot in the East Division with 9 games left to play. The Pats are looking to snap a three game slide tonight after losing to Prince Albert Friday, Saskatoon Saturday and Red Deer on Monday morning. The Pats played very well in Friday's game against the Raiders but Rylan Parenteau stood on his head and gave Prince Albert the win. Saturday a tough start sunk the Pats in Saskatoon and them Monday Red Deer put on a defensive show in a 2-1 victory. The number of games looked like it had caught up with the Pats in their last two games but after a day off on Tuesday they will look to get back on track against the Ice tonight.
WHAT A GREAT MONDAY - Monday mornings game was incredible. Kudos to the Pats organization for putting on a great School Day game. Director of Ticket Sales Kellin Enslev was the driving force behind the idea and putting it into action, he did a fantastic job pulling it all off. It was a team effort from all the staff and it turned up gold. The 5000 kids looked like they had the time of their lives, the Brandt Centre has never been so loud in my five years with the team, they screamed and danced for three straight hours. I hope they do another one in the future.
RED DEER IS FOR REAL - Monday's game made me a believer in the Red Deer Rebels. The club has a ton of skill up front but that's not what stood out. It was their defensive game. Their D are big and mobile, they move the puck well and protect the middle of the ice better than any team I have seen all year long. They took a two goal lead in the first and then just played in incredibly structured game the rest of the way and picked up a 2-1 win. They are doing it without some key pieces in their lineup as well, starting goaltender Rylan Toth is out until the playoffs with a lower body injury and Connor Bleakley has been out since January 29th with a lower body injury. Bleackley, a 1st round pick of the Colorado Avalanche but was traded to the Arizona Coyotes on Monday, has started skating and it sounds like he will be back in the near future.
I had a chance to catch up with Rebels Associate Coach Jeff Truitt before Monday's game and asked him about his team dealing with the injuries to those key guys. "We are out with a couple guys and I guess right now the importance of winning and getting your games all in order and things like that, we would be doing the same thing if they were in the lineup or if they weren't in the lineup. We are asking guys now that the push is on and obviously you want to get to that 100 per cent of your game, game A level, take it to the next level, all of that other cliche stuff going on here. It's everybody in that dressing room now that has to push forward."
As well defenceman Josh Mahura who was primed for a big year on the back end has started skating. He played just the first two games of the year before injuring his knee and has been out ever since. With goaltender Rylan Toth out, Trevor Martin has taken the reins as the starter and done an admirable job. Martin has a 2.77 G.A.A. and a .905 save percentage in 30 games for a record of 12-6-1-1. Truitt says he's stepped up. "He's getting into a rhythm here being able to start. He's such a battling type of goaltender. he never gives up on a puck and never gives up on a play. That's whats endearing with his character too is that he gives 100 per cent in that crease all the time so he is an easy guy to cheer for."
Monday was the first time the Pats had played the Rebels since their big splash ahead of the trade deadline. The team added forwards Adam Helewka , from Spokane, forward Jake DeBrusk, from Swift Current and forward Luke Philp from the Kootenay Ice. Truitt says they bring more than scoring to their team. "We've got with Helewka and Philp and DeBrusk, all of those guys can bring a high quality of skill and scoring that way but the other part of it too is their leadership and their experiences. You know especially Philp who has gone through a lot of the battles with Kootenay where their teams in the past really kind of got going in the second half and then kind of drove teams crazy in the first round of the playoffs. There is a statement there for the character of the young man that way and we are hoping that not only him but the other guys we brought in will help that was as well."
Philp has been named the captain of the Memorial Cup hosts and Truitt says their is a reason why he is wearing the C over maybe one of the guys who were already with the team before the deadline, and that's leadership and experience. "That's exactly the reason why, he has gone through those wars, he's had to push himself to another level with his former team and he's been pretty successful, he's always put up good numbers in the playoffs. Just to have him in there along with our other supporting cast guys as well. There's a lot of leaders in that room right now and it's been great because it's just not one or two voices, it's like eight or nine or ten now which is what you need for a veteran group like ours."
The Rebels currently sit 3 points back of Lethbridge for first in the Central Division but the Hurricanes do hold a game in hand. If the playoffs started today Red Deer would play Calgary in round 1.
BROOKS KEEPS IT ROLLING - Pats Forward Adam Brooks managed to extend his points streak to 15 games with his league leading 104th point on the season on Monday. He assisted on Sam Steels 22nd of the year that came with 0.5 seconds left in regulation. The 15 games matches the WHL's longest streak of the year which Brooks set earlier on in the season. The first 15 game streak saw Brooks put up 32 points, this one he has 7 goals and 26 assists for 33 points. He will look to make it 16 straight games tonight against the Kootenay Ice at the Brandt Centre.
COLBY WILLIAMS UPDATE - The question I head the most these days is, 'What is the situation with defenceman Colby Williams?' On Tuesday I chatted with Head Coach and GM John Paddock about where Williams sits this week. "There is progression. he is closer, I'm not sure the timetable yet but he's closer. I am hopeful and thinking or believing that he is going to play before the playoffs start so we will have to play that out a little bit but that is what we hope."
When Williams was forced to have a second surgery in early January the initial timetable was 6-8 weeks until her returned. Paddock says it hasn't gone to script so far. "There is different things that happen when you are dealing with any surgery and so forth. Our original projection before this, a couple weeks ago and then it was around this time and that's not the case. Again we are dealing with a delicate thing, we are dealing with a long term thing for Colby, his career. hopefully his career and he are dealing with getting a good player back into our lineup so there is a lot that goes into it."
Williams who has played just 16 games this year is hopeful it won't be too much longer until he gets back on the ice. "It's coming along all right. Obviously a little slower than we expected. It's a little bit frustrating and it's tough to see the guys playing so well and not being able to be apart of it. But We are doing everything we can to move it as fast as we can and hopefully it comes around... It's been a little bit tough and hard mentally but I'm excited to get back playing for the playoffs."
That's the story as of Tuesday.
VOTE FOR BROWN - Pats goaltender Tyler Brown made an absolutely incredible stick save against the Red Deer Rebels Michael Spacek on Monday morning. The save is the WHL nominee for the Fan Choice Play of the Week. Please go to fanchoice.ca to watch the video and vote for the Pats netminder. No sign up or login is required.
- Be sure to catch tonight's episode of Pats TV on Access 7 at 6:30. My guests this week are defenceman Sergey Zborovskiy and forward Austin Wagner.
- That's all I have for today, talk to you from the rink tonight and have a great week!