WHL in 30 Preview: Swift Current Broncos at Regina Pats
Swift Current (47-17-4-2) at Regina Pats (39-25-5-1)
Saturday, March 17 –Shaw TV 12 p.m. (Mountain)
Fans will get a taste of a potential first round playoff matchup Saturday when the Swift Current Broncos and Regina Pats clash at the Brandt Centre on WHL in 30.
For the Pats, the message this weekend is clear and simple: a win secures third place in the East Division and sets up the aforementioned first round matchup with the Broncos. For the Broncos, they hold the Pats’ playoff fate in their hands. Having won all four meetings in the season series so far, the Broncos can reasonably expect to compete for victories on both nights this weekend again.
The Pats could use this weekend’s game as a two-game preview for their first round playoff matchup and a chance to set the tone before the series even starts.
The Broncos have also found continue offensive success since the turn of the calendars into 2018. Captain Glenn Gawdin (Calgary Flames) ranked in a three-way tie for second among WHL skaters for points since January 1, 2018 with 52 points (24G-28A) in 29 games, joining Kailer Yamamoto (Edmonton Oilers) and Matthew Phillips (Calgary Flames) just behind WHL leading scorer Jayden Halbgewachs (San Jose Sharks) from the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Not to be discounted is a 47-point (9G-38A) performance from Gawdin’s teammate Aleksi Heponiemi (Florida Panthers), who will do everything he can to ensure the Broncos go on another solid run in the playoffs.
Max Paddock has been a valuable asset to the Pats since the calendars flipped over to 2018, posting a 12-2-1-1 record, 2.46 goals-against-average, and .914 save percentage in the absence of an injured Ryan Kubic. Those numbers are close to the best in the league, helping keep the Pats near the top of the heap heading into the playoffs. As one of eight Eastern Conference goaltenders to record at least 10 wins since January 1, 2018, he ranks highly in other statistics as well, with the best GAA and SV% figures among those eight goaltenders.
It likely goes without saying at this point in his WHL career, but Pats captain Sam Steel (Anaheim Ducks) will once again be a player to watch and one the Broncos will have to contain in order to succeed. With 47 points (18G-29A) in 26 games during the 2018 calendar year, he’s upped his game to give the Pats a fighting chance in the playoffs. Factor in the contributions of players like Josh Mahura (Anaheim Ducks) — 39 points (11G-28A) in 31 games — Cameron Hebig (Edmonton Oilers) — 37 points (12G-25A) in 30 games, as well as other top scorers like Matt Bradley and Cale Fleury (Montreal Canadiens) and you’ve got a Mastercard Memorial Cup squad that’s seemingly figured things out at the right time.
One of the keys the Pats will want to look at is grabbing the lead after the second period. They’re just one of five teams yet to suffer a regulation loss when leading after 40 minutes this season, joining other top-ranked clubs including the Moose Jaw Warriors, Everett Silvertips, Tri-City Americans and Vancouver Giants.
Fleury is five assists shy of 100 for his WHL career. Jake Leschyshyn (Vegas Golden Knights) is two points shy of 100 for his WHL career. Brady Pouteau is two games of 150 for his WHL career. Friday’s contest will be the 275th game of Jesse Gabrielle’s (Boston Bruins) WHL career. Matt Bradley is one point away from tying a personal career-high for points in a season. Goaltender Max Paddock needs just 26 minutes in net to reach 2000 for his WHL career.
Broncos forward Matteo Gennaro is five points away from 250 for his WHL career. Max Patterson is one point shy of 50 for his WHL career. Defenceman Colby Sissons (New Jersey Devils) is one assist shy of 100 for his WHL career. Artyom Minulin is two assists shy of 100 for his WHL career. Tyler Steenbergen (Arizona Coyotes) is three points shy of 250 for his WHL career. Aleksi Heponiemi (Florida Panthers) is two assists shy of 150 for his WHL career. Goaltender Stuart Skinner (Edmonton Oilers) enters play this weekend with 29 wins, one shy of back-to-back 30-win seasons.
Watch all the action play out on this week’s episode of WHL in 30!
Sept. 27 – Swift Current 5 at Regina 3
Jan. 6 – Regina 2 Swift Current 4
Jan. 27 – Regina 1 Swift Current 3
Jan. 28 – Swift Current 4 Regina 1
Mar. 16 – Swift Current at Regina*
Mar. 17 – Regina at Swift Current
*WHL in 30 broadcast
***PLEASE NOTE: WHL in 30 is a condensed format, 30-minute broadcast of the WHL Game of the Week, airing the day after the game is originally played.