Sometimes a road trip out west in the Western Hockey League could spell the end for a team’s season, but so far, the Regina Pats have enjoyed a mid-season revival with a pair of wins to open up the trip in Vancouver and Victoria.
Tonight the Pats will continue with their third game in B.C. as they visit the Kelowna Rockets. Coverage on 620 CKRM begins with the pregame show at 8:40, opening faceoff is 9:05.
Regina is leading a pack of teams competing in the race for the final playoff spots in the WHL’s Eastern Conference, the Pats are 7th with 24 points, they a trio of teams that trail Regina by three points.
Pats Captain Connor Bedard has not disappointed in his first trip home in his home province as a member of the Pats. He has accumulated three goals and a pair of assists in Regina’s opening two games of their visit in British Columbia. With a looming break due to an appearance in the World Juniors in Halifax, Bedard currently enjoys a 14 point cushion for top spot in the WHL points race. The margin is a bit smaller in both goals and assists with the North Vancouver product ahead by four goals and enjoys a five point edge in assists.
With Bedard returning to B.C. for the first time since departing for the Pats, there has been plenty of attention both on and off the ice for the likely number one pick overall in the 2023 NHL Draft. Attendance wise, Bedard’s trip has been a boon for the WHL teams. There were 5,276 people that attended the Regina and Vancouver game last Friday an increase from the average of 3,230 that the Giants have averaged this season according to hockeydb.com. Meanwhile in Victoria on Saturday, there was 7,000 fans in the rink for the Pats and Royals matchup, which was above the average in Victoria of 3,294.
It was definitely a hot ticket to see Bedard last weekend, with tickets selling for over $200 on websites including Ticketmaster and Stubhub. This weekend for the Giants home game against the Kamloops Blazers, the most expensive tickets are selling under $30. For tonight and tomorrow’s matchups in Kelowna and Kamloops, there are only a few standing room tickets available.
The majority of fans watching the Pats may be watching Bedard, it has been his linemate, Tanner Howe, who has lit up the scoring sheet. Following a one goal effort on Friday, the Prince Albert product had a career night with a four goal and two assist effort in Victoria.
On Monday, Howe celebrated his 17th birthday by being named the WHL Player of the Week.
He believes the chemistry with his teammates including Bedard has been a big reason for his recent success.
“I think my linemates have been huge for me and that’s been helping a lot.”
Howe says it’s not hard to not notice the extra attention that the Pats captain has faced this week, but adds that he has dealt with the situation like a pro.
“He’s handled it very well and mature. ”
The recent WHL player of the Week also noted that the excellence with Bedard begins off the ice.
“Just doing extra reps in workouts, just preparing his body, little things, obviously media is a big one too, he’s obviously a mature man.”
With the packed rinks in B.C., Howe says the Pats have been able to feed off the extra energy in the build to grab a pair of victories and is hopeful the team can continue the momentum for the remainder of the trip.
Following tonight’s game in Kelowna and tomorrow’s matchup in Kamloops, the Pats will conclude the B.C. portion of their road trip in Prince George on Friday night with a contest against the Cougars.
WHL attendance figures provided Western Hockey League and hockeydb.com