Pats clinch playoff spot as they sweep season series
It takes a lot for the Regina Pats not to be the villains at Mosaic Place.
© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Brayden Point from the Moose Jaw Warriors was able to get the puck behind Regina Pats goalie Daniel Wapple, but wasn't able to score from the side of the net Saturday night at Mosaic Place.
It was that kind of night Saturday.
The Pats had a perfect night as they completed a season series sweep over the Moose Jaw Warriors with a 7-3 win and clinched a playoff berth in the process.
It was another frustrating night for the Warriors and their fans in a wild game that featured 18 power plays and six power play goals.
"I don't have a lot of playoff experience in the past four years as a Regina Pat," said Pats 20-year-old Dyson Stevenson who had a Gordie Howe hat trick. "(Moose Jaw) took us out in the playoffs (in 2012) when we had a heck of a d-corps and good goaltending, but the Warriors found a way to win. They ended it quickly. That's why it feels so good to win all eight games against them this year. It feels really good right now."
It was the last meeting in the rivalry for Warriors captain Sam Fioretti and it obviously didn't end the way he had hoped.
"Like every good rivalry you grow to hate them over the years. We've had some good games against them over the years and I have some good memories against them, but this year it's tough to swallow that we couldn't get that last one," said Fioretti who had a goal and an assist.
The game was dominated by special teams. The Pats scored four power play goals off of eight chances, while the Warriors were 2-for-10 with the man advantage, but also scored short-handed.
"I thought our guys played hard and battled through a lot of adversity," said Warriors head coach Mike Stothers. "They didn't let their emotions get away from them when it could have spiralled and escalated. They stuck with it. They did their best to beat Regina and the officials.
"I thought they played hard. I thought they played hard until the end. I don't think the score is indicative of their lack of effort."
Moose Jaw's Brayden Point was called for an early goaltender interference call when he collided with Pats goalie Daniel Wapple after his shot was saved. That was relevant when Warriors goalie Zach Sawchenko stopped Chandler Stephenson off the rush and Stephenson knocked Sawchenko over. Morgan Klimchuk had most of the net to shoot the rebound into to give the Pats a 4-1 lead.
Stothers was fuming, the home fans were raging and it didn't get any better a few minutes later. Pats defenceman Colby Williams gave Warriors centre Colton McCarthy a shove in front of the Pats net. The contact resulted in McCarthy bumping into Pats defenceman Dmitry Sinitsyn who fell on top of Wapple as Warriors defenceman Alexey Sleptsov appeared to score. The goal was waived off and McCarthy went to the penalty box.
He didn't have to stay there long as Sinitsyn scored on the subsequent power play to give the Pats a 5-1 lead.
"I'll evaluate our team and hopefully the league will evaluate what has become an inconsistent effort from the guys on the ice," said Stothers. "We're held accountable and we're held responsible for improving our players and our on-ice product. Sometimes I don't know if that same urgency applies to some of the decisions that are made by the guys reffing. I honestly don't."
The Warriors earned the last five power plays of the game after the call on McCarthy — and scored twice to make things interesting heading into the third period — but Stothers wasn't buying that make-up calls were going to compensate for calls that affected three goals that all went against his team.
"Now you think you're going to make it favourable by giving power plays later on? It's the momentum of the game in the now," he said. "I've seen it all year long, you touch a goalie and the goal doesn't count. So how does that goal count?"
Trailing 5-3, the Warriors had a four-minute power play early in the third period when Regina's Carter Hansen picked up a double-minor. One of Hansen's holding penalties came when he pulled McCarthy from behind on a breakaway when Hansen didn't have a stick which had the fans howling for a penalty shot.
The Warriors failed to score on the extended power play and Sinitsyn and Stephenson scored for Regina to put the game away.
"We had some opportunities there for sure. We would have liked to have scored on that four-minute power play — we got some good chances, but we need better execution," said Fioretti.
The Pats knew they gave the Warriors life with their lack of discipline. Heading into the playoffs, Stevenson knows his team has to cut down on their time spent short-handed.
"We're second in the league in penalty minutes. If we're going to go far in the playoffs we're going to have to take four (minors) or less per game," said Stevenson. "Our PK is struggling. It's been close to last place most of the year and that's because we take too many penalties."
The Warriors have two shootout losses to show for their efforts against the Pats this season. The silver lining is that the shoe was on the other foot not too long ago. In Stevenson's rookie season, the Warriors were 7-0-1-0 against the Pats.
"I've been a part of both ends. I felt like this year we wanted it a little more than they did. I thought we out-worked them in all eight games this year," said Stevenson who added that even when the rivalry is one-sided over the course of a season, each game is still a great battle. "I'm sad that (the rivalry) ends for me today because I always loved it. I don't know if the fans like me too much, but it's always fun to come here. I played my midget hockey here too and it's a good hockey town."
Point had a goal and an assist for the Warriors, while Tanner Eberle also scored.
Sinitsyn had a four-point night and Colby Williams added three assists for Regina. Klimchuk scored twice and Kyle Burroughs also scored.
Sawchenko made 23 saves in goal for the Warriors. Wapple made 26 saves for the Pats.