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Regina Pats Poised for First Ed Chynoweth Cup in 37 Years

By Ryan McCracken on January 30, 2017

Connor Hobbs (L) and Sam Steel (R) both sit at or near the top of their scoring races and have been instrumental in the Regina Pats' dominant race to the playoffs this season. (Photos Keith Hershmiller)

The Regina Pats are the real deal, and they’re out to prove it.

The powerhouse Pats earned the Canadian Hockey League’s No. 1 ranking in early November and have only given it up for one week in the 10 since. But even after stringing together one of the most dominant first-half records in the franchise’s history, Regina still loaded up at the trade deadline.

The Pats went all in this January, shopping away five players and three draft picks in the week leading up to the deadline in order to bolster an already-potent lineup that’s been gaining national attention.

“It’s really exciting to be part of something like this,” said Pats defenceman Connor Hobbs, adding the success doesn’t come easy. “It’s pretty special. There are a lot of factors that go into having a team like this and the success we’ve had. Things are just clicking for us. Hopefully we can just keep on building on things. There’s always things to work on.”

Regina got the ball rolling on Jan. 2 when they shipped centre Rykr Cole and winger Riley Woods south to Spokane in exchange for Chiefs centre Wyatt Sloboshan and a third round draft pick in 2017, but on deadline day they executed a blockbuster.

The Pats certainly spiced up the final day of transaction action with the acquisition of star defenceman Josh Mahura, and centre Jeff de Wit.

Regina gave up winger Lane Zablocki and prospect Dawson Barteaux in order to lock up Mahura. The Pats also gave up a first round pick this year, an option first rounder next year and a conditional third round selection in 2020 while taking back a third round pick in 2019.

Both Mahura and de Wit come to the Pats with valuable experience at the Memorial Cup level. While they fell short as hosts of the big show with the Rebels last season, Mahura will surely make a sound addition to the commanding Pats as a point-per-game player. The 18-year-old Anaheim Ducks draft pick sits 10th in defensive scoring with 36 points this year, and the perennial playoff performer has five points in 22 postseason contests.

It’s been 37 long years since the Pats lifted the Ed Chynoweth Cup as champions of the WHL, but 2016-17 might just be their year to return.

The Pats boast the most prolific offensive corps in the WHL — if not the entire CHL — with Sam Steel and Adam Brooks topping the league in points, while Hobbs recently took over the defensive scoring lead with 19 goals and 30 assists in his first 37 contests.

Up front, Steel and Brooks have been battling for the top of the WHL’s scoring chart with Medicine Hat Tigers Chad Butcher and Mason Shaw all season long, though they’ve yet to miss a beat, both clicking at better than two points per game. Through 35 games, Steel was topping the list in mid-January with 76 points — 32 and 44 assists — while Brooks followed closely with 75 — 24 goals and 51 assists.

The results have been staggering. It took 19 games before the Pats finally surrendered a regulation loss — something they’ve repeated just four times in the 22 games since.

The Pats have been nothing short of dominant in their quest for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, leading the WHL with 222 goals and a 30.5 percent power play unit.

Regina has also heavily outscored their opponents through the first period with 70 goals in the opening 20 this season. Hobbs says their ability to gain the early momentum tends to bring about a stronger effort up and down the lineup.

“It’s always a goal of ours to get off to a good start,” said Hobbs. “That usually leads into a full 60-minute effort.”

While much of the focus this season has been on Regina’s offensive prowess, Hobbs points out they have a championship contending goaltender between the pipes in Tyler Brown. The 19-year-old Winnipeg product boats a sub-three goals against average and a .904 save percentage with his 19-4-5-1 record, but Hobbs says he’s more than just a hot glove.

“Lots of guys look up to him for leadership,” said Hobbs. “He always makes incredible saves, but he’s an energy guys for us, he’s a core guy.”

While the Moose Jaw Warriors are still on their tail for the top of the East Division and the Medicine Hat Tigers have been staking their claim for the Eastern Conference, the Pats have still been nearly impossible to knock off-stride. The boys in blue have picked up victories in their first two games against Medicine Hat — outscoring the Tigers 14-7 in the process — while holding a 2-2-0-0 record in their season series with the rival Warriors.

Given that it took them 38 games to surrender their fourth regulation loss of the season in a 4-1 setback at the hands of the Warriors, it’s difficult to see the Pats as anything but Memorial Cup favourites, especially considering their deadline additions. Now it’s time for them to prove their mettle.

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By Ryan McCracken| January 30, 2017
Categories:  Major Junior
Keywords:  Regina PatsWHL

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