“Our division is the closest division overall in the league. There’s no easy games.”
The Regina Pats have spent a lot of time on their skates lately, swapping blows and feints with increasingly difficult opponents.
Their latest stretch, which saw them play six contests in nine days, featured the tail-end of a six-game win streak, followed by four straight losses. Pats’ head coach John Paddock grudgingly conceded this week that yes — his team was weary as they neared the end of that stretch, which concluded with a 7-0 loss to Medicine Hat on Saturday.
“I don’t like making excuses of any kind,” Paddock said Tuesday when asked if the team’s hectic schedule had led to a collective exhaustion. “I wasn’t thinking of that until today, when we practised again. And yeah — I think that’s somewhat a factor, a little bit, but I don’t put it all on that.
“You’ve just got to play better. When you’re tired — and it’s easy to say from where I’m standing, but it’s like any coach — play simpler, play smarter, (take) less chances. There’s different things when you’re in those situations, and we didn’t do a good enough job.”
The season doesn’t get easier. Up next is a stretch that sees the Pats play four more games in five days: Wednesday (7 p.m.) at home against the Brandon Wheat Kings, Friday at home against the Moose Jaw Warriors, Saturday in Moose Jaw, and Sunday in Saskatoon.
These are times that test a player’s muscles, limbs and grit.
“Yeah, four in five,” Paddock said. “It’s heavy. I’d rather play six in nine than four in five. And it’s tough opposition. Our division is the closest division overall in the league. There’s no easy games.”
The Pats continue to push for a playoff spot with six games to play. Eight of 12 Eastern Conference teams will advance to the post-season, and the Pats are sixth with a 31-27-3-1 record and 66 points. Seventh-place Medicine Hat has 63, while Swift Current, Calgary and Brandon all sit with 60.
The four-game losing streak, in other words, has been less than helpful for a Pats team hoping to extend its season.
“You know who you’re playing, you know what the standings are,” Paddock says. “It’s there, in black and white, what the standings are, and what we’ve done lately. I think everybody realizes the importance of the games.”
The upcoming stretch starts with Brandon, which at 26-29-8-0 is trying to close the gap.
Meanwhile, Pats’ forward Connor Bedard continues to lead the WHL with 61 goals, 64 assists and 125 points through 51 games. He’s 27 points ahead of runner-up Zach Benson of Winnipeg.
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