Regina looks to replicate Windsor’s first-round letdown to Memorial Cup triumph

REGINA — The Regina Pats don’t have to look far back to find inspiration as they enter the 100th Memorial Cup.

Regina, which was eliminated in the first round of the Western Hockey League playoffs by eventual champion Swift Current on April 2, opens the Canadian major junior championship on Friday against the Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League.

The Pats will try to emulate what the Windsor Spitfires did last year — claiming Memorial Cup glory after being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Ten host teams have won the Memorial Cup as hosts since the tournament became a four-team event in 1983.

“Not that we had any doubt, but with Windsor winning it last year, it showed that it can be done,” Regina captain Sam Steel said Thursday. ”We went through a very similar training process so it’s kind of a confidence booster knowing that.”

Regina is hosting the Memorial Cup for a seventh time and is in its 100th season as a franchise. The Pats have won the Canadian Hockey League title four times, most recently in 1974.

The Pats have appeared at the tournament on 16 occasions — the most of any team in CHL history. The last time Regina hosted in 2001, it also lost out in the first round of the WHL playoffs.

The Spitfires fell to London in the first round of last year’s OHL playoffs, but used the long layoff to their advantage by going undefeated on home ice at last year’s Memorial Cup.

Pats head coach John Paddock said that his team had nine days off following their playoff elimination before going into a three-week period of hard skating and battling.

Paddock was also able to build off the experience of assistant coach Dave Struch, who was Saskatoon’s head coach when the Blades hosted the Memorial Cup in 2013. That Blades team also was eliminated in the opening round of the post-season.

“I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way,” Paddock said about preparation plans. “We did talk to Rocky Thompson (Windsor’s head coach last season) … and Dave Struch was involved in one, but I don’t think it’s a lot different than anybody else would have done.”

Struch said that the training routine that he helped Paddock develop is similar to what his team in Saskatoon did along with both Windsor and host Shawinigan in 2012 when the Cataractes won the title.

One of the tools involved splitting the team up during practice to reduce the time on ice.

“When I spoke to Rocky (Thompson), the biggest thing was less (ice time),” Struch said. ”He did their workouts early in the morning, they didn’t overdo it as far as practice and that was it.”

Regina struggled to find its groove until the second half of the season and was boosted by a trade with Saskatoon that brought forward Cameron Hebig and goaltender Ryan Kubic to the Pats.

Hebig was second in team scoring during Regina’s brief seven-game playoff spell with six goals and two assists. Steel led the team in scoring with 11 points, including 10 assists.

Max Paddock, the head coach’s nephew, will start in net for the team’s opener against Hamilton. The 17-year-old was injured during the first round and the coach mentioned Paddock’s strong second half was a factor in his decision.

Kubic’s play in the first round against Swift Current, however, was not an issue.

“There’s no wrong decision to make,” John Paddock said. ”We feel comfortable with both goalies.”

Paddock said that he believes his team will be nervous, but doesn’t see that as a disadvantage.

“Can you be too excited? I guess you can be,” he said. ”But I think one of the advantages we have is we’re playing at home.”

Just Posted

Hospitalizations jump in Red Deer due to opioid poisonings

Small city hospitals impacted more by opioid crisis

Central Alberta councils learn more about Bighorn Country proposal

A collection of central Alberta politicians are learning more about the province’s… Continue reading

High-speed chase led to fatal collision, jury hears

A Delburne man accused of manslaughter caused a fatal rollover collision during… Continue reading

‘Part of the solution:’ Alberta seeks proposals to build new refinery

EDMONTON — Alberta is looking for someone to build a new oil… Continue reading

Online ads spoil Christmas surprises, raising privacy concerns: experts

Lisa Clyburn knew she had found the perfect gift for her nine-year-old… Continue reading

Sebastian Giovinco, Jonathan Osorio and Adriana Leon up for top CONCACAF awards

Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco and Jonathan Osorio are up for CONCACAF male… Continue reading

Huitema, Cornelius named 2018 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

TORONTO — Canada Soccer has named striker Jordyn Huitema and defender Derek… Continue reading

Review: Too much Spider-Man? Not in the Spider-Verse

You might be forgiven for feeling superhero overload this holiday season. Had… Continue reading

‘Modern Family’s’ Sarah Hyland had second kidney transplant

LOS ANGELES — “Modern Family” star Sarah Hyland says she had a… Continue reading

Orlando SC acquires Canadian Tesho Akindele in trade with FC Dallas for cash

ORLANDO, Fla. — Canadian forward Tesho Akindele was traded to Orlando City… Continue reading

Koskinen notches third shutout, McDavid gets winner as Oilers blank Flames 1-0

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers appear to have shored up their defence… Continue reading

Most Read