The 2015/16 Regina Pats packed up their lockers and said good bye on Thursday morning. While there is certainly a bitter feeling after a tough 2-1 game 7 loss in Red Deer, there is also optimism for what is to come for the organization.
Head Coach and GM John Paddock says the loss is hard to get over. "The tough part about sports or hockey, when it ends it's like bang, like you fall off a cliff sort of ending. I think there was a lot of the goals and expectations met within the organization which is really important. I think the playoffs is really, this last series is really strong in our minds, it's a little bit hard to get over because we believed we were going to beat them. It's not like Brandon last year where the guys played their hearts out the last three games to win a game and lose two in overtime, really gave them a tough go but it was still different. Us as coaches and players believed we were going to win the series and it's hard that way."
Paddock went on to say next year will be exciting but the plan in place is not just about being good for the next two years but for sustained success. "We are a little bit under assumption here when we talk about the next two years. Like there is a plan in place but really the plan as Dave (Struch) and I have talked about, is to have a championship program and have a chance top go for a championship team within that. Kootenay made the playoffs 16 straight years, that's more what the organization wants to be about, Medicine Hat went to the second round 9 straight years. Those are a lot of good things and within that you have your chances to go for something. We are really excited about next year, when you only lose your overage players with the possibility of Adam Brooks and that would be a huge huge hole. But we are really excited about it but it's about building up the program and at the proper times going for something special."
The other part of the bitter feeling is saying goodbye to three great players who finished their WHL careers on Tuesday night. Captain Colby Williams and forwards Cole Sanford and Aaron Macklin. Williams who played his entire career in his hometown of Regina summed this incredible season and the feeling of having a career come to a close. "This playoff run was a little bit different than last year and obviously a lot different form the year before when we got swept. We had a tough team to play in the first round with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, we played with them and we just came together as a group and it was an unbelievable feeling beating them in that series and then going into Red Deer and having confidence and losing two games and them coming back and winning two games... Like I can't even explain how much fun it was and the group of guys in there were so excited. Then taking it to game 7 was unbelievable. I've never played a game 7 in my whole life and it was an experience for me and it is just too bad we couldn't pull it off in the end. You don't really notice how hard it is when it ends until it's over. I was just thinking we are going to get this goal, we are going to get this next goal and then as soon as the buzzer went and you look at the clock and that's it. It's a tough pill to swallow, these next couple of days will be hard seeing the guys go and saying goodbye to the coaches. This chapter of my life is over and it will be tough not coming back here next year."
It was an incredible year and things are only getting better!
- Forward Austin Wagner has been called up to the Ontario Reign of the AHL, the affiliate to the Los Angeles Kings. The Reign begin the Calder Cup Playoffs tonight against the San Jose Barracuda.
- Colby Williams and Connor Hobbs are both expected to join the Washington Capitals AHL affiliate Hershey Bears this weekend. Hershey will play the Portland Pirates in round 1.
- Defenceman Sergey Zborovskiy will not go to the AHL as the New York Rangers affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack missed the playoffs.