Streaking Pats welcome Warriors to Brandt Centre in WHL on Access action
Moose Jaw Warriors (36-7-1-2) at Regina Pats (24-19-4-0)
Friday, January 19 – Art Hauser Centre 7:05 p.m. (Central)
Channels: Access7 SD, Access 70 HD, WHL Live
After going 4-0-1-0 in their past five games, there’s no doubt that the Regina Pats are riding high. They’re back in Eastern Conference playoff race and have significantly improved their likelihood of catching and overtaking the Brandon Wheat Kings for third in the East Division.
When they take to the ice Friday in WHL on Access action, the Pats, winners of five of their last seven games against divisional opponents, will face one of their biggest challenges of the 2018 calendar year in the Moose Jaw Warriors.
From the Warriors’ perspective, they certainly won’t take the Pats lightly after two of the first three games in the season series being decided by a single goal, but the Warriors are dealing from a position of power. Their high-octane offence has been averaging six goals per game since the start of the 2018 calendar year.
Before Saturday’s loss to the Prince Albert Raiders, the Warriors had gone on an impressive 7-0-1-2 run against teams in their own division, helping them to a lofty eight-point lead in the division. It should come as no surprise then that the Warriors are dominating the offensive charts individually as well. The duo of Brayden Burke and Jayden Halbgewachs (San Jose Sharks) sit first and second respectively in the WHL scoring race. Halbgewachs also leads the goal scoring race, finding the back of the net 48 times.
Justin Almeida’s breakout season of 64 points (27G-37A) in 46 games has him averaging 1.39 points per game, a figure better than three times what he produced in 70 games between Prince George and Moose Jaw last season. With that production, he sits ninth in the league scoring race, making him one of only three 1999-born players (Aleksi Heponiemi and Cody Glass) in the top 10. Tanner Jeannot has also been the quintessential overage forward, breaking through for his first 30-goal season in a career with the Warriors that has spanned 241 games so far.
Oh yeah, they also went out and got a guy by the name of Kale Clague (Los Angeles Kings), who sits one point back of Eastern Conference foe David Quenneville (New York Islanders) for the lead in the scoring race for WHL defencemen despite having played in 14 fewer games.
You know your team is stacked when you captain, Brett Howden (Tampa Bay Lightning), sits seventh in team scoring.
The Pats are getting there slowly, but surely. They have a similar build of offensive studs and a deep blueline and have started to gain ground on their opponents in recent weeks.
With an 8-1-1-0 record in their past 10 games, the Pats are playing well above their .553 winning percentage and are on pace to add another 40 points, give of take, in their final 25 games if they keep up their play. With a split of 11 home games and 14 road dates for the remainder of their season, it won’t be easy for the Pats, but nothing that’s worth doing ever does.
Though they have the automatic entry into the 2018 Mastercard Memorial Cup, it goes without saying that they certainly don’t want to consider that option.
What Jeannot has meant to the Warriors can be compared to Matt Bradley’s contributions for the Pats. Leading the Pats with 15 points (7G-8A) in his last 10 games, Bradley is one goal away from back-to-back 30-goal seasons, no small feat in the tough East Division. His game-winning goal on New Year’s Day against the Raiders was the 20th game-winner of his WHL career.
A quirky fact to the season series between the two clubs is that’s it’s brought out the best in each of their power plays while bringing out less than desirable results from their respective penalty kills.
In the three games, the Pats and Warriors have converted on three of their 12 power plays (25 per cent) while both going 9/12 on the penalty kill. The man-advantage of both teams are playing close to each other as well. There is an obvious discrepancy in the percentages of both teams but the Warriors only have 45 power play goals to the 42 of the Pats.
While mismatched in previous meetings this season, the Pats are in a better position to challenge the top team in the WHL and the battle between the two contending clubs should keep fans on the edge of their seats!
Tune in Friday night for WHL on Access action live from the Brandt Centre starting at 7:05 p.m. CST!
— Moose Jaw Warriors (@MJWARRIORS) January 18, 2018
Moose Jaw Warriors
Head coach: Tim Hunter
Leading scorers: LW Brayden Burke (21-68-89); Jayden Halbgewachs (48-39-87); C Justin Almeida (27-37-64)
Leading goaltender: Brody Willms (36GP, 26-6-1-2, 3.13 GAA, 0.898 SV%, 2 SO)
Power play: Fifth – 27.1 per cent
Penalty kill: Fourth – 79.8 per cent
— Regina Pats (@WHLPats) January 19, 2018
Head coach: John Paddock
Leading scorers: C Cameron Hebig (31-30-61); C Matt Bradley (29-26-55); LW Jared Legien (17-26-43)
Leading goaltender: Ryan Kubic (24 GP, 11-11-2-0, 3.70 GAA, .885 SV%)
Power play: 13th – 21.6 per cent
Penalty kill: 20th – 73.9 per cent
Injuries/Unavailable: RW Emil Oksanen (upper body, day-to-day); C Scott Mahovlich (lower body, 2-to-3 weeks)
Sept. 29 – Regina 4 Moose Jaw 5 (OT)
Nov. 10 – Moose Jaw 3 Regina 2
Nov. 12 – Regina 1 Moose Jaw 3
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*
* Indicates WHL on Access broadcast