The Regina Pats are happy with their start in their first-round series against the Saskatoon Blades, but they are aware there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
On the weekend, Regina opened up a 2-0 series lead against Saskatoon after a pair of road victories.
Head Coach and General Manager John Paddock said on Monday the Pats are thrilled with their current situation but the series is far from over.
It was another pair of packed crowds at the Bridge City in the first two games of the series, which is nothing new for the Pats as they been playing in front of sold-out crowds throughout the second half of the season. Paddock says his team has benefited from playing in a lively atmosphere over the last couple of months.
“We’ve definitely been used to it. ”
Paddock pointed out that the Pats have enjoyed a cheering section whenever they’re on the road as there was about there were about 10-15 hats thrown on to the ice at the SaskTel Centre when Connor Bedard scored his third-goal of the game in Game 2.
Sunday’s matchup wrapped up a stretch of four games for the Pats at the Bridge City over the last two weeks. Bedard believes the familiarity isn’t an advantage for either squad.
“It was nice, but I don’t think it was too big of a thing.”
After leading the WHL in goals (71) assists (74) points (145) during the regular season, Bedard has not slowed down during the post-season, opening up with eight points (5G-3A) in his first two WHL playoff games.
Special teams have been in favour of the Pats through the opening two games of the series. Saskatoon has gone 0 for 6 on the power play, while the Pats scored a pair of goals on the extra man advantage in Sunday’s win, both coming from the stick of Zack Stringer.
With players like Bedard, Stanislav Svozil and Alexander Suzdalev, Stringer understands that he has an excellent opportunity playing on the Pats top power play unit.
“It’s unbelievable, Connor’s shot, Suzdalev’s passing ability, you know you just have to stand there and hope that the puck comes back to you and score on your opportunities. ”
Bedard added that Stringer was a factor in other areas of the game.
“Not only the goals but some of the shots he blocked last night and the penalty killing and everything he did.”
It wasn’t just the top-end scorers for the Pats who provided offence against the Blades. Zackary Shantz chipped in with his first WHL goal in Game 1 and Brayden Barnett provided an important assist in Sunday’s victory.
Bedard said it’s an extra boost when Regina receives some depth scoring.
“Shantz first goal so we were really fired up, for that to start our playoffs was awesome. He’s been playing so good since he’s been back.”
Throughout the opening two games, the Pats have opened up the scoring in both contests, for goalie Drew Sim, the task of shutting down the Blades becomes a little bit easier when the Pats are holding down a lead.
“With our team you know that your going to get three or four, no matter who you are playing, so makes my job a little more relaxing when you get the first one.”
Despite giving up five goals on Sunday, Sim provided the steady presence required from their netminder as he made 42 saves in the Game 2 victory.
The Pats will look to take a commanding 3-0 series on home ice on Tuesday in front of packed crowd at the Brandt Centre.
Coverage for Game 3 will begin with the pre-game show at 6:10, Dante De Caria will have the play-by-play beginning at 7:00.