View Full Version : Imports charge Pats' offence

10-12-2005, 10:01 AM
Imports charge Pats' offence

Greg Harder

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

It's gotta be the accent.

Before the arrival of European forwards Denis Tolpeko and Petr Kalus, the Regina Pats had shown all the scoring prowess of a band geek at his high school prom.

However, the Pats haven't been groping their hockey sticks quite as tight lately. Not since the addition of Tolpeko and Kalus, who've brought some welcome Euro-dangle to the WHL club's previously sterile repertoire.

"They can fill a building on their own," offered head coach Curtis Hunt, whose team improved its record to an East Division-leading 5-3-0 with Monday's 4-1 win over the Medicine Hat Tigers.

"It's great to have gamebreakers in your lineup. They're both dangerous every time they're on the ice."

Just as important, Kalus and Tolpeko are making their teammates better as well.

"There are two kinds of good players," explained Hunt. "There are good players and there are good players who can make those around them better. Certainly these two have that ability.

"They know how to use their speed and they know how to hit the open holes. That's contagious in a lot of ways."

The Pats may not be the league's most-potent offensive team, but their average of 3.5 goals per game is light-years ahead of last season, when the club averaged just 2.1 per game.

The main difference resides with the team's newcomers -- especially the imports.

Kalus, a Boston Bruins' second-rounder, came to the Pats with high expectations after being the No. 3 pick in this summer's CHL import draft. Still, no one could have predicted he'd have such an immediate impact.

The 18-year-old Czech is among the league leaders in almost every major offensive category, including goals (tied for second with eight), points (second with 12), rookie goals and points (first) and power-play goals (second with four).

Tolpeko, meanwhile, is shaping up to be a major steal after being acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds for an eighth-round bantam pick. In three games since joining the Pats, the 20-year-old Russian has three goals and three assists.

Tolpeko's presence has given Regina the added luxury of two balanced scoring lines. Kalus is skating on the right side with Ian Duval and Matt Robinson while Tolpeko joins Kyle Ross and Garrett Festerling.

Festerling and Robinson, two other newcomers who've made an early impact, are tied for second on the team with five goals apiece. The speedy Festerling also has five assists, putting him in a tie for sixth place in the league with 10 points.

"Speed is so important and when you have speed you can intimidate with it," noted Hunt. "I think that's one of the things we've been able to do a little bit.

"The funny thing is, you can't play offence unless you take care of your end. We don't switch like football or baseball where the defence comes off the field. The transition is immediate -- offence to defence, defence to offence. That's a part of our game that we're really trying to stress . . . so we can use our speed."

Regina's shift from offence to defence wouldn't be as smooth without defenceman who are capable of moving the puck. That's where Kyle Deck, Logan Pyett, Craig Schira and rookie Nick Ross are also beginning to shine.

"The biggest difference is our D," added Hunt, who has relied heavily on those four blueliners due to a spate of injuries.

"They're all mobile, they're all heads-up players and they all play with a great amount of poise. They have the ability to get the puck, put their head up and make that quick-strike play. That's the difference between using (your speed) and not."