On the right track – what the puck?
Fans rally around promising Pats squad
Article: Autumn McDowell – Sports Editor
The hometown Regina Pats are back in the driver’s seat of the East division, somewhere that they haven’t been since the 2007-08 season.
Ironically, the division crown was not handed out on a winning night, in fact, the Pats actually lost last Saturday night in overtime 4-3 to the Brandon Wheat Kings, but the single point was all that they would need to clinch the title, and no Pats fans were complaining.
For the past four out of five years, hockey fans in Regina have been drooling at the prospect of playoff hockey in the Brandt Centre, only to be shot down in the bitter end. But, this year, we are in the power position, and if there was ever a time to rub it in everyone’s face for sticking with this team, the time is now.
I hate to bring this up, but the last time that the Pats were in this position, they went on to lose to the seventh-place Swift Current Broncos in the first round of the playoffs. But, this year’s squad plans to do everything they can to revenge their recent loss to Brandon, and their performance six years ago.
A lot has changed since those days, both on and off the ice. Back in 2007, the Pats roster was bolstered with future stars such as Jordan Eberle, Logan Pyatt and Colten Teubert.
Fans would rally behind a single player, but selling out the barn was unheard of and rallying behind the entire team as opposed to one individual just didn’t happen. People came to the rink night after night to watch these players at reasonable prices, before they had to pay an arm and a leg to watch them in the big show, they didn’t care if the team won or lost, they just wanted to watch talented hockey players.
But, this year, it’s different. This year, attendance at the rink has been hovering right around 4,000 fans at every game and 5,652 fans watched the boys get their banner last weekend. A few years ago, that isn’t how things were. Members of the team used to take to the media and talk bad on the fans, making fun of “the fat guy eating popcorn” which caused nearly all people in the rink to feel personally attacked.
This year, something different is happening, and people should take note. Sure, this year’s squad also has future stars and there are still plenty of boxes of popcorn being eaten, I am not going to try and argue that isn’t happening.
Guys such as Chandler Stephenson, Morgan Klimchuk, and Boston Liere will surely be in the show one day if their productivity continues to rise, but fans have bought into the entire team, from the first line centreman to the fourth line grinder.
Everyone is doing their part, and it’s working.
They say the Memorial Cup is one of the hardest trophies to win in all of sports, and to have a legitimate chance at holding something that we haven’t touched since 1973-74 is truly special.
So, get behind this team while you can; their road to the championship begins this Saturday night at the Brandt Centre against the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Commence celebratory drinking.