Pats invade Art Hauser Centre to take on Raiders once again in WHL on Access action
Regina Pats (23-19-4-0) at Prince Albert Raiders (16-19-6-2)
Wednesday, January 17 – Art Hauser Centre 7 p.m. (Central)
Channels: Access7 SD, Access 70 HD, WHL Live
The last time the Regina Pats came to the Art Hauser Centre to battle the Prince Albert Raiders in WHL on Access action, both teams were in critical need of two points in order to aid their planned ascent in the East Division standings.
That was in October, but the sentiment still rings true for both clubs ahead of Wednesday’s matchup. The Pats are just nine points behind the Brandon Wheat Kings for third in the East Division and gaining with a 7-2-1-0 record in their past 10, including a recent 3-0-1-0 stretch. The Raiders sit on the outside of the playoff picture, seven points behind the Saskatoon Blades for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and have the pieces to challenge for that spot and more.
The Pats are one of five teams that, if the playoffs began today, would begin it with a negative goal differential. While that may be a bit worrisome to an extent, the Pats have once again altered their roster and appear to have a winning combination at the moment. Adding forward Cameron Hebig (Edmonton Oilers) and defenceman Libor Hajek (Tampa Bay Lightning) from the Saskatoon Blades at the WHL’s Trade Deadline are moves made to aid them in May, but there’s no reason they can’t help now either.
Goaltender Ryan Kubic also came over in the trade and has put together three solid performances with his new club, earning them five of a possible six point since taking over the team’s goaltending duties.
The Pats are no by means perfect yet though, a goal that should be enticing to watch them strive for over their remaining 26 contests. Those areas of improvement once again center around the team’s power play, which has converted on just two of their last 17 opportunities with the extra man. Against a team like the Raiders, the Pats are especially due, having yet to score a goal on the man-advantage against them this year. The positive side to that situation though is they’ve scored 13 even-strength goals in the first four games of the season series, winning three one-goal games between the two teams.
Defenceman Josh Mahura (Anaheim Ducks) has been one of the players who has stepped up his game recently, with 13 points (3G-10A) in seven games. His contributions, as well that of other players on the Pats’ blueline will be felt over the coming months.
Saturday presents an opportunity for the Raiders in the same sense. Led by a cast that includes Jordy Stallard (Winnipeg Jets), captain Curtis Miske and Parker Kelly (Ottawa Senators), Prince Albert have been giving the other competitors in the East Division a run for their money. Though they have yet to beat the Pats in four meetings this season, they’re coming off wins against strong competition in the Moose Jaw Warriors, Brandon Wheat Kings, and Lethbridge Hurricanes.
The fact of life in the East Division this year though is that if you are unable to piece together multiple victories against this tough competition night-after-night, you won’t find yourself in a playoff spot. The Raiders took a solid shot at working to make that post-season push, acquiring forward Kody McDonald from the Prince George Cougars near the trade deadline. He responded with immediate dividends, scoring the overtime-winner against the Rebels last week for his first goal in a Raiders uniform. An intriguing question that remains for the Raiders is what kind of damage they can do to other clubs in the next two months on a nightly basis and whether that will help them gain any ground in the standings.
Ian Scott (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Curtis Meger have worked well together at points during the season, each working to lead the charge should the other stumble for a moment. Both have been between the pipes for the aforementioned victories against leading clubs in the WHL and can reasonably be expected to produce similar results over the team’s remaining 29 games.
To counter the Pats’ power play woes, the Raiders have been the ninth-best team in the league this year for penalty killed and have kept the aforementioned Pats off the board with the extra man. In fact, in the Raiders’ last five games, their opponents have gone a combined 2-for-19 on the man-advantage, showing the club is trending upward on a penalty kill that has already been tough to score on.
Find out how the two teams matchup on the ice when the Pas come to the Art Hauser Centre to battle the Pats in WHL on Access action this evening!
— Regina Pats (@WHLPats) January 17, 2018
Head coach: John Paddock
Leading scorers: C Cameron Hebig (31-28-59); C Matt Bradley (27-26-53); LW Jared Legien (17-26-43)
Leading goaltender: Ryan Kubic (23 GP, 10-11-2-0, 3.73 GAA, .883 SV%)
Power play: 14th – 21.0 per cent
Penalty kill: 20th – 73.8 per cent
Injuries/Unavailable: RW Emil Oksanen (upper body, day-to-day); C Scott Mahovlich (lower body, 2-to-3 weeks)
— Prince Albert Raiders (@PARaidersHockey) January 17, 2018
Prince Albert Raiders
Head coach: Marc Habscheid
Leading scorers: C Jordy Stallard (29-27-56); LW Cole Fonstad (12-34-46); C Kody McDonald (21-17-38)
Leading goaltender: Ian Scott (26GP, 10-13-0-2, 3.36 GAA, .898 SV%)
Power play: 18th – 17.9 per cent
Penalty kill: Ninth – 79.3 per cent
Oct. 13 – Regina 2 Prince Albert 1 (OT)
Dec. 30 – Regina 2 Prince Albert 1
Jan. 1 – Prince Albert 4 Regina 5 (OT)
Jan. 7 – Prince Albert 1 Regina 4
Jan. 17 – Regina at Prince Albert*
Feb. 3 – Prince Albert at Regina*
Feb. 19 – Regina at Prince Albert
Mar. 14 – Prince Albert at Regina
* Indicates WHL on Access broadcast.