View Full Version : the bar has been raised.....

04-07-2006, 08:48 AM
from reginapats.com

The bar has been raised for the Pats

Greg Harder, Leader-Post
Published: Friday, April 07, 2006

After three years of slumming with the WHL's lower class, the Regina Pats are living it up in the high-rent district.

But can they write the cheque?

"We have to let everyone know we're going to be a good team in the future," offered captain Kyle Deck, who endured three losing seasons in Regina before turning things around in 2005-06. "We proved that we can play with a young squad and everyone is going to be older next year. That brings pressure within the team that guys have to be that much better. All the roles just get bigger."

So do the expectations.

"That pressure is good," insisted GM Brent Parker. "We all strive to have that kind of expectation. Going into next year, I don't think anybody will be picking us for the basement. We have a good core of returning players, we made strides as an organization. But next year is a new year and just because you're projected to do something doesn't mean it will come to fruition. A lot of things come into play, but we'll come back, hopefully a year older, a year wiser and a year better because of it."

The Pats got some funny looks last season as they crawled out of the WHL basement and climbed into the elite 40-win club -- placing them in the top tier of WHL teams.

Flying under the radar can have its benefits.

"The reality of 40 wins is something we should be proud of considering where we finished a year ago and where we were picked to finish," noted head coach Curtis Hunt. "Our guys believed, went through some adversity throughout the season and found a way to get things done."

Now that the element of surprise is gone, Regina has been left with the burden of expectation.

Short memories prevail in the cold, cruel world of sports, where it's all about: "What have you done for me lately?"

"The expectations will be as great from inside our group as they will be from outside," said Parker, who doesn't want his players to walk away satisfied after being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. "You want them thinking, 'We did have a good year, but we could have done so much more.' Being good enough isn't good enough. You have to expect more and demand more of yourself. We have a feel for it now and a taste for what we have to do to succeed. The challenge now is to carry on and grow from where we left off."

The foundation is certainly in place.

Including late-season rookie callups Derek Hulak, Matt Delahey and Colten Teubert, Regina's season-opening lineup in 2006-07 is projected to include 20 returning players.

All things being equal, that's great news for the Pats and bad news for anyone looking to wiggle his way into the lineup.

- The Pats are already set at the game's most crucial position. The tandem of David Reekie and Linden Rowat gives Regina experience and stability between the pipes, although top prospect Jeff Bosch might have something to say about that.

- The only uncertainty on defence is at the bottom end of the scale. Regina's top four blueliners -- Deck, Logan Pyett, Craig Schira and Nick Ross -- should be the strength of the team. Teubert, the first overall pick in the 2005 bantam draft and the projected face of the franchise, is already pencilled into the next slot, followed by a host of prospects vying for the sixth and seventh holes, led by Delahey.

- Up front, Kyle Ross, Garrett Festerling and Petr Kalus -- assuming the latter isn't playing for the Boston Bruins -- give Regina experience and punch at the top end of the lineup.

Where things get interesting is the next tier of forwards. The enigmatic Justin Bernhardt has 40-goal potential, provided he can keep his nose clean. Ian Duval showed late-season flashes of his enormous upside after a largely disappointing sophomore campaign. Ditto for Ryan McDonald. Throw in power forward Brett Leffler, the No. 4 pick in the 2004 bantam draft, and Regina's front unit is full of blossoming young potential -- tempered by some unanswered questions.

"If you look at our team, we could return eight of our top 10 scorers, virtually our entire defence core and both of our goaltenders," noted Parker. "That's a pretty good position to be in -- a position a lot of teams would like to be in."

Now it's up to Parker to build upon that foundation.

After hitting a home run by taking Kalus with the No. 3 pick in last year's CHL import draft, the Pats will have to do their homework if they hope to land another impact European while selecting from the bottom third of the pack.

There's also the matter of Czech superstar Martin Hanzal, who wants to play in the WHL -- but not with the Pats. The right compensation for Hanzal could help put Regina over the top.

Last season, Parker did a masterful job of bringing in two unheralded 20-year-olds who turned into impact players. It will be almost impossible to replace 35-goal man Matt Robinson and player-of-the-year Denis Tolpeko, but the veteran GM will certainly try to soften the blow.

"Hopefully we can add another (quality) import and address some of our needs via trade," added Parker. "Or maybe it's a free agent like when we got (Jordan) Fuder and (Tyson) Sievert, who were important parts of our team. Every year you're replacing your 20-year-olds. They were huge parts of our club. We need other players to step into new roles next year and hopefully excel."


A look ahead to the 2006-07 Regina Pats:

Key losses: RW Matt Robinson, LW Denis Tolpeko (graduated).

20-year-olds (three spots available): D Kyle Deck, C Garrett Festerling, C Kyle Ross, D Josh Fauth, RW Jordan Fuder, LW Tyson Sievert.

Key returnees: Deck, Festerling, Ross, LW Petr Kalus, D Logan Pyett, D Craig Schira, G David Reekie, D Nick Ross, C Ian Duval, RW Justin Bernhardt.

Stepping up: RW Brett Leffler, 17; C Jason MacDonald, 17; F Ryan McDonald, 18; C Levi Lind, 18; G Linden Rowat, 17; D Colten Teubert, 16.

On the bubble: Fauth, Fuder, Sievert, RW Michael Senseman, 19; D Derek Reinhart, 19; D Matt MacDermott, 18; LW Scott Brownlee, 19; D Spencer Fraipont, 18.

Rookie candidates: D Matt Delahey, 17 (Moose Jaw midget); F Derek Hulak, 17 (Saskatoon midget); F Brayden Metz, 16 (Regina midget); Teubert (B.C. midget); F Kyle St. Denis, 16 (B.C. junior B); F Jordan Eberle, 16 (Alberta midget); D Dru Cotterill, 16 (Alberta midget); G Jeff Bosch, 16 (Saskatoon midget); D Stefan Schneider, 17 (B.C. midget); F Jared Jagow, 18 (Moose Jaw midget); F Kent Sauter, 17 (Oklahoma City midget); F Trent Rumpel, 17 (Moose Jaw midget).

Note: Regina also owns the WHL rights to Czech C Martin Hanzal, 19, who has refused to report. He is seeking a trade.

This is actually a pretty good summary of what could happen next year. Of course, there are always training camp surprises, and with what I saw last year at the rookie camp, we could see some upsets. The one thing the Pats do well is scout, although they seem to have trouble convincing players to play here. All in all, it was a great season, Im proud of what they accomplished, and I am way excited to see what they can do next year.

Warrior Fan
04-07-2006, 11:44 AM
Those are some really good players listed as well and it could be something if they get Hanzel. I assume though that he will not be reporting. The Parkers have really made it tough on themselves with the way they have dealt with players over the past few years.

They do lose alot though. The guys that made the team successful this year such as Robinson and Tolpelko. These were two key elments that they traded for to help them be successful.

I think they will need some more offense next season. They have some guys but they are young and will need time to adjust before they make serious impacts.

They do seem to be headed in the right direction though at least.