Pats and Warriors meet in East Division clash to open WHL on Access schedule
Regina Pats (1-2-0-0) at Moose Jaw Warriors (2-0-0-0)
Friday, September 29 – Mosaic Place 7 p.m. (Central)
Channels: Access7 SD, Access 70 HD, WHL Live
It may just be the second week of the 2017-18 Western Hockey League regular season, but that doesn’t mean there’s any less importance to Friday’s match-up between the Regina Pats and Moose Jaw Warriors at Mosaic Place.
The Warriors will play host to the 2018 Mastercard Memorial Cup hosts Friday in the first of eight meetings this season as a dogfight for the East Division title intensifies.
For two teams that were projected to be two of the top teams in their division and the Eastern Conference, who ever wants to gain a boost in the standings now will be needing to bring their best effort Friday.
It’s still too early to say if the Pats are struggling, but an 8-1 loss to the Brandon Wheat Kings to open the season last Friday was certainly troubling. It wasn’t enough to kick them out of the top spot in the Canadian Hockey League’s Top 10 rankings though, with them remaining in the top spot while the Warriors were listed as an honourable mention.
The team will welcome back two of their top performers in defenceman Josh Mahura and reigning WHL Player of the Year Sam Steel who were in camp with the Anaheim Ducks. Apart from them, there’s still plenty of offensive flair on the Pats’ roster for teams to be concerned about.
Matt Bradley leads the entire league with five goals and sits third overall with six points through three games. A quartet of Pats have recorded a pair of points this season, including Wyatt Sloboshan.
In such a big match-up, the Pats will likely send out Tyler Brown to man the crease Friday. Of his 33 wins last season, 17 came on the road so the team will expect their starter to be sharp in the visitors end once again. Brown went 2-2 at Mosaic Place during last year’s season series.
The Warriors enter play Friday as one of eight undefeated teams left in the entire WHL, a statistic they’d clearly like to continue. After a home-and-home sweep of the Prince Albert Raiders last weekend, the Warriors will continue their seven-game home stand against the Pats.
One of the reasons the Warriors were picked as a contender for the division this year was due to their wealth of offensive talent. That will once again be on display at home as the trio of Brayden Burke, Noah Gregor and Tanner Jeannot look to stay hot following four-point weekends for each of them.
Behind them are another trio of players in Jayden Halbgewachs, Jett Woo and Justin Almeida who each had three-point weekends and will be counted on to be just as dangerous with the puck on their sticks.
Another bonus for the Warriors has been their play at even-strength, with nine of their 10 goals coming at five-on-five.
Brody Willms stopped 61 of the 64 shots sent his way last weekend and will likely be asked to do more of the same this weekend to deliver the victory for his Warriors. How Willms handles himself against a potent Pats offence will be especially telling.
Following Friday’s contest, the Pats head home to face the Red Deer Rebels Sunday while the Warriors will play host to the Rebels Saturday evening.
— Moose Jaw Warriors (@MJWARRIORS) September 29, 2017
Moose Jaw Warriors
Head coach: Tim Hunter
Leading scorers: LW Brayden Burke (2-2-4); C Noah Gregor (1-3-4); LW Tanner Jeannot (1-3-4)
Leading goaltender: Brody Willms (2 GP, 2-0-0-0, 1.50 GAA, .953 SV%, 1 SO)
Power play: T-14th — 12.5 per cent
Penalty kill: T-Seventh — 88.9 per cent
Injuries/Unavailable: D Josh Brook (upper body, week-to-week), D Chase Hartje, (lower body, week-to-week), G Adam Evanoff, (illness, day-to-day)
— Regina Pats (@WHLPats) September 29, 2017
Head coach: John Paddock
Leading scorers: C Matt Bradley (5-1-6); C Wyatt Sloboshan (1-1-2); RW Emil Oksanen (0-2-2); Braydon Buziak (0-2-2); D Dawson Davidson (0-2-2)
Leading goaltender: Tyler Brown (2 GP, 1-1-0-0, 4.80 GAA, .846 SV%)
Power play: Eighth — 17.6 per cent
Penalty kill: 22nd — 38.5 per cent
Injuries/Unavailable: C Jake Leschyshyn (lower body, day-to-day), RW Nick Henry (upper body, 3-to-4 weeks) C Riley Krane (lower body, four weeks), F Austin Wagner (upper body, month-to-month)
— AccessCommunications (@MyAccess_ca) September 29, 2017
Sept. 29 – Regina at Moose Jaw
Nov. 10 – Moose Jaw at Regina
Nov. 12 – Regina at Moose Jaw
Jan. 19 – Moose Jaw at Regina
Feb. 14 – Moose Jaw at Regina
Feb. 16 – Regina at Moose Jaw
Feb. 18 – Moose Jaw at Regina
Feb. 24 – Regina at Moose Jaw