View Full Version : Pats Resemble Blades

03-23-2006, 09:44 AM
(from reginapats.com via LeaderPost)

Pats resemble Blades

Greg Harder, The Leader-Post
Published: Thursday, March 23, 2006

When the Regina Pats look across the ice at the Saskatoon Blades, it's almost like staring at their own reflection.

With fuller playoff beards.

The Pats have been referred to as a younger version of the Blades -- perhaps even a mirror image of the 2004-05 Saskatoon team which orchestrated the biggest turnaround in franchise history.

When head coach/GM Lorne Molleken and associate Chad Mercier arrived in the Bridge City last season, they inherited a team that won a league-worst seven games. With a little spit and polish, they improved upon that total by 30 wins.

The upswing continued this season with 41 victories.

"That's the beauty of junior hockey," offered Molleken. "It's what keeps all of us old guys young. There's a new challenge every day and there's a new challenge every year."

The Pats took on a similar challenge this season -- with comparable results. Regina went from 12 wins in 2004-05 to a 40-win outfit in '05-06.

"Junior hockey is a very cyclical business," noted Pats GM Brent Parker. "They went through a rough time a couple years ago. Lorne and Chad came in last year and established credibility to their organization and brought a new approach, a real professional approach. Obviously they made huge strides last year ... and carried on this year. It's a credit to their players because it's a tough thing to come back after that kind of year. We know that."

The Blades would just as soon forget.

"When you have a season like that, in the summer you kind of sit and grumble over it," offered Saskatoon captain Wacey Rabbit. "But you have to come back champing at the bit. If you want to be successful (as an individual) your team has to be successful. Lorne Molleken brought that professional atmosphere here. (He emphasized) what it takes to win every night. He brought that and the players have followed."

The Pats have enjoyed a similar resurgence under head coach Curtis Hunt -- and they've done it with a comparable on-ice style.

"Both teams the last couple years have gone through some growing pains ... but we both rebounded pretty well," added Rabbit. "They're like us. They made some good trades picking up (Denis) Tolpeko and adding (Petr) Kalus. Guys like that have helped their team and we brought in some players who have helped us."

Molleken and Mercier have intimate knowledge of Regina's past struggles, having guided the team during its Memorial Cup run in 2000-01. The Pats would later pay for that endeavour with three straight losing seasons, but they appear to have turned the corner.

"I think both organizations deserve a lot of credit," said Molleken, a native of Regina. "I go back to the Pats when Chad and I were there and what Brent did for the team to give us an opportunity to win a Memorial Cup. Sometimes there's a price to be paid for that. That's one thing that I know both of us will never forget was the chance that Brent gave us to win a championship."

Now the process has come full circle.

"For our kids, we couldn't be prouder of what they accomplished this year and the job the coaching staff has done," added Parker. "Nobody wants to see teams struggle year after year. I don't think it's good for the league. We're just enjoying the successes we've had. Obviously we want to win but regardless of what happens over the next little while, I think our season has been a success. We're just looking to build on that now."




Eastern Conference quarterfinal)

Due to a change in arena availability, the dates for Games 3 through 7 have changed. The new schedule is as follows:

Game 1 -- Friday: Regina at Saskatoon, 7 p.m.

Game 2 -- Saturday: Regina at Saskatoon, 7 p.m.

Game 3 -- Tuesday: Saskatoon at Regina, 7 p.m.

Game 4 -- Wednesday: Saskatoon at Regina, 7 p.m.

Game 5 -- Fri., March 31: Regina at Saskatoon, 7 p.m. (if necessary).

Game 6 -- Tue., April 4: Saskatoon at Regina, 7 p.m. (if necessary).

Game 7 -- Wed., April 5: Regina at Saskatoon, 7 p.m. (if necessary).