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Vanstone: Regina Pats disappear when spring is here

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The Regina Pats, who’ve misplaced six of their previous seven video games, are as soon as once more destined to overlook the Western Hockey League playoffs.

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The Regina Pats ought to change their theme from “March On” to “April Off.”

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Their season, in spite of everything, is successfully completed.

Six video games stay, however they’re a mere formality. The most effective-case state of affairs is that the popcorn doesn’t burn.

The Pats have been a long-shot to make the Western Hockey League playoffs earlier than this previous weekend, when even probably the most delusional of optimists have been disarmed and little question disillusioned by back-to-back stinkers (newest in a sequence).

For starters, Regina lost 7-0 at home on Friday to the Winnipeg Ice, which entered the, er, recreation because the CHL’s top-ranked workforce.

The rating, as ugly because it was, really flattered the house facet. A brisk observe session, or perhaps a night time on the films, would have been extra helpful to the Ice than a recreation towards the outclassed Pats.

At the very least Friday’s end result was explainable. The Ice is working on a distinct tier than nearly each different workforce in major-junior hockey. The Pats, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2018, are mired in a rebuilding mode.

Then got here Saturday, when the Pats met one of many groups that they’re ostensibly chasing in a determined try and climb up the Jap Convention ladder and one way or the other contend for the eighth and closing playoff spot.

As soon as once more, it was a gross mismatch, as the Prince Albert Raiders pulverized the Pats 6-1.

The Pats, who elevated the typical value of a ticket from $19 to $23 on the outset of the 2021-22 marketing campaign, are definitely asking their followers to pay the worth. Is there the identical expectation for the gamers? At occasions, they appear to be allergic to the nice artwork of shot-blocking.

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Throughout a season through which one or two groups with dropping data would possibly very nicely make the playoffs, the Pats are nonetheless destined to search out themselves on the surface wanting in. It is a recording.

It’s eerily harking back to the 2009-10 season, through which the Pats (30-35-3-4) completed tenth within the 12-team convention despite the fact that their roster included three NHL first-round draft selections — Jordan Eberle, Colten Teubert and Carter Ashton — and 17-year-old Jordan Weal, who amassed 102 factors.

Eberle had 106 factors (together with 50 targets) in 57 video games with the 2009-10 version. He was such an exceptional Pat that the workforce retired his jersey in 2012. But, the Pats couldn’t even parlay a participant of that uncommon calibre right into a playoff spot throughout his 19-year-old season.

Quick ahead to 2021-22. The Pats are blessed with three gamers — Connor Bedard, Ryker Evans and Stanislav Svozil — who any workforce within the 22-team league would completely like to have.

Bedard has 45 targets, the second-highest whole within the league, as a 16-year-old. Most organizations can be elated to boast one defenceman who’s as proficient as Evans or Svozil. The Pats are blessed with each gamers.

Even so, the season is a write-off.

So why has this all become such a redolent mess?

Matador goaltending has been an irresolvable difficulty. The Pats’ save share (.867) is the worst within the league. (See additionally: Penalty killing — 71.8 per cent — which can also be a mirrored image of the goaltending.)

It’s telling when the perfect netminding a workforce has acquired all season has been supplied by a 16-year-old call-up. In 5 video games as a promotee from the under-18 Regina Pat Canadians, Kelton Pyne usual a 2.76 goals-against common, a .910 save share and two shutouts. These 5 video games apart, Pats followers have been left to pine for Pyne.

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Even the Drugs Hat Tigers, whose 11-48-3-1 report is way and away the worst within the league, have a greater save share (.868) than Regina.

And the Tigers even have an excellent goaltender (Garin Bjorklund), who’s routinely left to fend for himself.

The Pats (24-33-3-2) have a superior supporting solid, at the least on paper. However you would possibly as nicely feed that paper into the closest shredder, which ought to then be tossed into the closest dumpster.

At one level, the routine dropping may fairly be attributed to a spate of accidents. However now that the therapeutic course of has taken place, for probably the most half, any reference to accidents may be dismissed as excuse-making.

Solely the followers are left to really feel the ache.

One simple issue has been the well being scenario of head coach and general manager John Paddock, who has been unwell and consequently unavailable for 2 months.

Paddock — a two-time WHL coach of the yr — introduced Nov. 18 that he was returning to the bench rather than Dave Struch, who was fired after the team’s record dipped to 6-10-0-0.

Beneath Paddock, the Pats flirted with .500 (10-11-0-1). The targets for (87) and towards (88) have been nearly even.

Paddock has been succeeded on an interim foundation by assistant coach Brad Herauf, beneath whom the Pats have been outscored 106-79 whereas going 8-12-3-1.

A deeper dive into the numbers, nevertheless, underlines the no-win scenario through which Herauf has been positioned.

Appearances by Pyne apart, the Pats’ save share with Herauf operating the bench is — please learn this whereas sitting down — .849. The goals-against common, Pyne excluded: 4.53.

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How is a coach to cease the bleeding when the goalies can’t cease the puck?

Furthermore, what’s a coach — any coach — speculated to do when a workforce is grossly overmatched or just underwhelming? Each situations performed out on the weekend, throughout which the Pats have been outscored 13-1.

And now, as soon as once more, they’re taking part in out the string — or the spring, because it have been.

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