It’s all an equation
The kind of math athletes understand
What the Puck?!
The University of Regina men’s hockey team came out of its battle against the visiting Lethbridge Pronghorns the same way it went in, trailing Lethbridge by five points for the final playoff spot in Canada West.
The equation was simple going into the weekend: lose two-straight games to Lethbridge and Regina is both realistically and mathematically out of the playoffs, as the Cougars would be trailing the Pronghorns by nine points with four games left to play. Even if Regina won all four games, it would only get eight points.
However, win both games and the Cougars would be only one point back of Lethbridge, but also play two more games than it. Therefore, Regina would have to pray that Lethbridge lost to Alberta – which it most certainly would – and pray even harder that it could win just one of its last four games against top teams Alberta and Saskatchewan – a difficult task for sure but definitely not impossible.
The Cougars somehow did not take either of the first two options; they took the third, meaning that they won one game and lost the second to Lethbridge.
Regina came out ready to play as everyone knew that, at the end of the day, its season was on the line, even though it still had two more weeks of regulation games to play after Lethbridge. In order for those remaining games to actually mean something, the Cougars came out firing on all cylinders.
In the first game, on Feb. 3, the Cougars were able to strike first as Terrance Delaronde finished off some pretty passing by Russ Nielsen and Mark Schneider on the powerplay to register the game’s first goal just five minutes in.
Craig Cuthbert then went to work for the Green and Gold and put the finishing touches on a nice play quarterbacked by John Sonntag and Schneider to give the Cougars a two-goal cushion seven minutes into the second.
The Pronghorns – which I still feel is the worst name ever, seriously. Pronghorn was the only option left? – were not about to give the Cougars an easy victory.
Just two minutes after Cuthbert’s goal Winston Day Chief got one past Lucas Gore and consequently removed the goose egg from the scoreboard.
The Pronghorns looked to be on a bit of a momentum swing as Justin Hollinger registered an unassisted goal midway through the second to tie things up, and just like that the teams were back to even.
Former Regina Pat, Cass Mappin. scored his own unassisted goal barely into the final period to give the visitors a one-goal lead. But Brett Leffler’s power play goal four minutes later made short work of the lead.
Schneider, who had already tallied two assists, snapped a shot from the point that sailed through traffic into the back of the net. Schneider’s first goal as a Cougar proved to be the game winner as the Cougars held on to take game No. 1, 4-3.
After the first night, the Cougars were just three points back of Lethbridge, and although the win was nice, everyone knew they would need to win Saturday to realistically have a shot at the playoffs.
Saturday night started the exact opposite of Friday night, as it was Lethbridge who got off to an early two-goal lead after Clayton Cumiskey and Dustin Moore both chipped singles past Gore in the first.
Regina got things going offensively just three minutes into the second when Tyler Penny got the Cougars on the board. The goal seemed to spark the team as the Cougars were suddenly back in the mix.
Ryan Pottruff for the Pronghorns and Terrance Delaronde traded goals in the second and the Cougars went into intermission trailing by a one-goal deficit.
Unfortunately, the Cougars were unable to get anything past Scott Bowles in the final period, while Cass Mappin scored his second goal of the series and Curtis Cooper added an empty-net goal to seal the Cougars fate. Regina lost Game 2, 5-2.
So what does all of this mean for the Cougars? Mathematically, it means that they are not out of the playoffs. Basically, the Cougars still have to hope that Lethbridge loses both of their games against Alberta next weekend and Regina has to find a way to win three out of its last four games.
The quest for the playoffs will continue this weekend when Alberta is in town. Puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m. both Friday and Saturday night at the Co-operators Centre.