UPDATED: Regina draws first blood

Matthew
Matthew Gourlie
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Pat Canadians win Game 1, series shifts to Regina Monday

It took 23 seconds to undo months of work.

Moose Jaw Generals goalie Grant Naherniak stops Regina Pat Canadians centre Jayden Halbgewachs in close Saturday in Game 1 of their Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League playoff series at Mosaic Place.

Two first period goals in rapid succession were all the Regina Pat Canadians needed to steal home ice advantage from the Moose Jaw Generals Saturday afternoon.

The Pat Canadians beat the Generals 3-1 in Game 1 of their best-of-five Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League series at Mosaic Place.

"I was disappointed in our better guys. I don't think they worked as hard as they should be," said Generals head coach Ray Wareham. "They were better than us tonight — very simply — and that's why they won."

Game 2 will be played Monday in Regina (7:45 p.m., Co-Operators Centre).

Former General Cohen Yano got the scoring started for the Pat Canadians with a power play goal. Levi Barnstable — son of former Moose Jaw Warrior Scott Barnstable — scored on the next shift.

"It was a good way to start the series. We came in as underdogs, but we showed we can play with these guys," said Yano who had 20 points last season with the Generals and has 44 points in 43 games this season with Regina.

The Generals failed to score on a five-on-three power play that lasted for 1:39 in the first period. After a scoreless second period, the Generals got on the board when Rykr Cole scored a power play goal 5:13 into the third period.

Regina's Owen Sillinger earned his second assist of the night when he set up Arthur Miller for a goal after a great rush. That insurance goal curtailed the Generals momentum.

The Generals were missing two of their top defencemen for most of the game. Shane Collins was out of the lineup after suffering an upper body injury in their tie with Yorkton on Feb. 22. Dawson Davidson was battling the flu and was only able to play a couple of shifts.

Wareham, who has also been battling the flu in the week leading up to the series, praised rookie defencemen Riley Mohr and Kyle Sargent.

"We went to four d-men and I thought those guys were pretty good," said Wareham. "I thought they played some of their best hockey tonight. You can't fault those guys. Those four logged a lot of minutes.

"I don't know what it is with us, every year when we start the playoffs we come down with injuries. It was the same thing last year. This year even the APs we could have used — (Regan) Seiferling and (Ty) Anderson — are both hurt too so we couldn't even call them up."

Collins won't play in Game 2 tonight.

When the Generals held possession in the offensive zone, Regina collapsed their five players inside the face-off circles and at times even dropped below the hash marks. They swarmed the Generals on the cycle around the net and dared them to generate offence from the points.

"Nothing against the four guys we've got back there, but they're not offensive gurus," said Wareham. "It was tough for us to generate anything back there. Any time we had some sustained pressure and we got it to the point, it seemed like we couldn't get shots through. It was frustrating and our forwards were frustrated at times, but that's part of the deal. You have to fight through that stuff."

The Generals employed forwards Donovan Neuls and Regan Nagy on the point in the final five minutes to try to create a spark. They had six forwards on the ice when they pulled  goalie Grant Naherniak in the final minute.

"We're pretty good once we have the lead," said Yano whose Pat Canadians are brimming with confidence after winning 10 of their last 11 games. "A part of our game is to keep crashing and banging and we didn't really give them much room to do much out there."

There won't be much open space in the playoffs, but if the Telus Cup hosts are going to have a fruitful run in the SMAAAHL playoffs they will need to preserve when the going gets tough.

Wareham was satisfied with the performance and effort of his third and fourth lines, but noted that isn't going to cut it in the post-season.

"Their top-end guys were good and ours weren't with the exception of Neuls. I'm talking about veterans guys. You need your best guys to be your best guys and they weren't tonight unfortunately," he said. "Other than (the younger forwards) I thought we were hard-pressed to find anybody (up front) that put forth the effort to win you hockey games in the playoffs."

Naherniak made 18 saves for the Generals and will get the start again tonight. Logan Flodell stopped 20 shots for the Pat Canadians.

The recipe for victory in Game 2 is simple for the Generals.

"We need our best guys to be our best guys. We're not going to win a game in this series — never mind the series — if they're not our best guys. They're either going to step up or we're going to be in a hole," said Wareham. "We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole, but we have to go back and repay the favour and get home ice back."

 

 

 

Geographic location: Regina

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