There was an avalanche of scoring in Regina earlier tonight, as the host Pats defeated the WHL champion Swift Current Broncos 6-5 in the quest to win Canada’s ultimate major junior prize.
One of the biggest reasons for Regina’s success tonight was their power play. They would go 3-for-3 on the night with the extra man while Swift Current would be successful twice out of five chances.
The first of those power play goals for the Pats came from Nick Henry 7:36 into the game. Artem Minulin was in the box for hooking. It was 4-on-4 as Regina’s Sam Steel was off for high sticking too, but his penalty expired at 6:28, giving the Pats an abbreviated power play. Henry would score, from Steel and Josh Mahura, putting the Pats up 1-0.
They took that lead into the second period, but Swift Current’s Glenn Gawdin took a holding the stick minor at 9:53 of the second and Cameron Hebig made them pay to give Regina the 2-0 lead. Steel and Mahura had the helpers on the goal scored at 10:29.
That was two goals, both on the power play for the Pats.
Swift Current finally got on the board when Gawdin scored 1:17 later from Aleksi Heponiemi and Artem Minulin. The Regina lead was cut in half 2-1.
But the power play was not the only special team that was on for Regina. The Pats’ Jake Leschyshyn took an elowing penalty at 15:38 of the second and Henry would scored shorthanded at 16:09 from Steel to make it 3-1. But that was not the end of that. On the same PP, the Broncos’ Beck Malenstyn scored at 16:32 from Gawdin and Minulin to make it 3-2.
Henry and Steel teamed up again to make it 4-2 Pats at 17:35 of the second. Henry lit the lamp while Steel again had the assist.
The penalties then settled down in the third period, but the scoring did not. Regina’s Bryce Platt scored from Matt Bradley and Hebig at 10:43.
Swift Current then exploded for two more to make it 5-4. First, at 14:22, Heopniemi scored from Giorgio Estephan and Sahvan Khaira. Then, at 17:11, Estephan netted one from Heponiemi and Malestyn.
The Broncos would pull goalie Stuart Skinner briefly to get a 6-on-5 advantage, but ended up taking a too many men on the ice bench minor. They kept Skinner out, allowing Libor Hajek to score the game winner with assists to Steel and Robbie Holmes. That made Regina 3-for-3 on the power play on the evening and put the Pats up 6-4.
But things were not done yet. With 55 seconds left in the game, Mahura took a roughing penalty for the Pats and Gawdin scored on the ensuing power play from Heponiemi and Devils prospect Colby Sissons at 19:10.
Time finally ran out and this wild game was over with the Pats winning 6-5.
Gawdin was named the game’s third star with two goals and one assist. Henry was the second star with a hat trick and Steel was the first star with a whopping five assists. In the end, Henry scored half of the Pats’ goals and Steel assisted on all but one.
Sissons had the assist for a point with four shots on net and an even plus/minus rating.
As far as the beleaguered goalies. Regina’s Max Paddock faced 31 shots and made 26 stops. Swift Current’s Skinner saw 28 total shots and stopped 22 of them.
With that loss, the Swift Current Broncos are eliminated from the 2018 Memorial Cup. The Hamilton Bulldogs will face the Regina Pats on Friday in a game to decide the opponents for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in the Memorial Cup final to be played on Sunday. We will have coverage of that Hamilton game for you right here on Friday.