The Mastercard Memorial Cup gets closer and closer for the host Regina Pats each day.
Since being eliminated by the Swift Current Broncos in the first round of the WHL playoffs, the team has been doing many things to sharpen their game as they prepare for the champions of the WHL, Ontario and Quebec league. With a long break, one would think the team might be struggling somewhat to keep that competitive fire burning, but that isn’t the case according to assistant coach Dave Struch.
Struch, who has been through this before during his time with the Saskatoon Blades, says keeping it fresh has been the key.
“To this point, we haven’t had a bad day.” Struch said. “We have changed things up daily so the players come and have something new, but in the end they’ve done such a great job with their work ethic and their commitment. We need to keep that up.”
So what do you do to keep it new? Struch says there are a lot of things.
“We’ve done a lot of different things. One day it is an out-numbered situation, the next is a compete day, the next is a conditioning day. They went to a yoga class the other day instead of working out at the rink.” Struch said. You try to create team-building situations so when they come they see something different and we think it’s helped. The players are responding well.”
That being said, Struch says it wouldn’t surprise him if the coaching staff experiences a day of the team hitting the wall as the start of the tournament gets closer.
“We talk about it every day. It’s a reality!” Struch said.” We just to have mix it up and keep them interested. It’s a difficult process for coaches and players. It will happen and we will read and react when it does.”
While the Pats rest, teams in the three junior leagues are getting closer and closer to their league finals.
In the WHL, Everett will look to win the Western Conference Saturday night with a home-ice win over Tri-Cities while Swift Current will entertain Lethbridge with the best-of-seven tied at 2.
The Hamilton Bulldogs have advanced to the Ontario League final. They will meet either Sault Ste. Marie or Kitchener with the Greyhounds leading the series 3-2 after a Game 5 win Friday.
The Quebec league has Acadie-Bathurst waiting for the winner of the Blainville-Boisbrand/Charlottetown series with Blainville having a 3-2 lead.
The Mastercard Memorial Cup starts May 18.