“At The Rink” – Regina Pats Official Blog Page
Welcome to the Regina Pats official blog, “At The Rink”. In this space we hope to give you a different perspective on all things Regina Pats. Regular contributors to the blog will include the voice of the Regina Pats on 620 CKRM Phil Andrews, and Mark Rathwell, VP of Communications. The articles will vary with some tackling more interesting and weighty matters of the day, while others will be far more light-hearted.
November 17, 2016 - A Season To Remember Already
Good Morning Pats Regiment,
Who could have imagined when the Regina Pats opened training camp way back on August 27, 2016, the team would be 18 games into the regular season and not have a regulation time loss? In hindsight, that’s a bet I wish I could have made. Your Regina Pats are currently in the midst of an 11 game winning-streak and an overall record of 15-0-3-0. This ties a team record for consecutive games without a loss in regulation set back in 1964. To put that in perspective, none of our players and coaches were alive other than John Paddock…and he was 10 years old at the time.
The team record puts us first in our conference, and third overall in league. Everett and Prince George have 34 points while we have 33. The latter have played three and four more games than us respectively. Also, for the first time in the memory of many who cheer on the Blue and White we are ranked first in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). We’ve held the number one sport for three weeks running.
Fueling this early season success is the best offence in the WHL with an astounding 104 goals scored as opposed to only 57 given up. Five players sit in the top 20 in scoring, with Centre Sam Steel leading the charge. In just 16 games he’s recorded 37 points (17G, 20A) to lead the WHL. Connor Hobbs and Chase Harrison sit #1 and #3 in scoring among defencemen. Rookie import Filip Ahl leads all newbies in scoring with 25 points (16G, 9A) while Nick Henry sits in fifth with 18 points (8G, 12A). And then there’s the plus\minus where the Regina Pats hold down the top five spots and seven of the top 10 in the league, led by Chase Harrison at (+ 30).
Lest we forget about Adam Brooks. You remember him? The 2015-16 WHL scoring champion and this year’s captain. As a 20 year old, there was a lot of concern he would not be coming back after attending training camp with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Brooks was drafted in the fourth round, 92nd overall in last summer’s NHL Entry Draft. Thankfully, Toronto returned him to Regina so he could finish out his junior career. I’m not in the locker room, so I can’t say if Adam is a rah-rah guy or the quiet, lead by example type. Regardless, I do know this; in his 12 games this season Adam already has 26 points (7G, 19A). He’s scored at least a point in every game he’s played. No matter his leadership style, the players are clearly following his lead.
There are a couple of things to be noted among all of this good news. First, it didn’t happen by accident. Our Head Coach John Paddock had a vision when he took over the team in 2014/15 of where he wanted to be. I think even he’d admit things are working out better, so far, than he could have envisioned. Second, you don’t just step on the ice and win. Our players and coaches work extremely hard each and every day. The pursuit of excellence is never ending, requiring hard work and dedication to be the best one can be.
Now, it’s early in the year and there’s no doubt times are good for everyone associated with the Pats Regiment. But, whether you’re playing the stock market or sports, the old adage of “what goes up, must come down” reigns supreme. Our coaches and players know this. John has been preaching to his players all season the credo of respect for the game, respect for your opponent and respecting the preparation it takes to play at a high level.
It’s way too early to be anointing the Regina Pats winners of anything. There is a lot of work to be done between now and March 18 (last regular season game). Teams will be amped up to play us and that’s okay. That type of competition only makes us better.
There is one other positive from this good start and it’s you the Pats Regiment. You have come out and supported the team to new heights. We’ve already had two sellouts and are averaging over 4500 fans a game. Your energy, enthusiasm and passion is evident every game. The coaches and players feel it and thank you for the support.
Every game will be a test for the team which will make for some very exciting hockey. Enjoy the ride Pats Regiment, it’s only just beginning.
See you at the rink.
August 18, 2016
Good Afternoon Pats Regiment,
Where do all the good ideas come from? Yeah, that’s a fairly “out there” sort of question but stay with me. Sir Isaac Newton’s understanding of gravitational force was inspired by the famous story of him sitting under an apple tree when an apple fell on his head. Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, was working for another shoe company when he started Nike. He felt he could make a better shoe and experimented in his home, making soles with a waffle iron and selling the shoes from the trunk of his car.
Why the history lesson? On Monday, the Regina Pats announced plans for a Toronto Blue Jays night on Jan. 6 during a home game against the Calgary Hitmen. Along with this special night are Blue Jays themed jerseys the Pats will wear. The response to this evening has been overwhelming to say the least. On social media, our posts have been shared, liked and favourited by thousands. Organizations like Sportsnet, Bardown of TSN, and Major League Baseball’s Cut4 have weighed in on the uniforms with a proverbial thumbs up. Check the slick unis out for yourself.
Now, the idea of special third jersey in the WHL or any sports league is nothing new. Last year, a few teams in our league did one to coincide with the release of the new Star Wars movie. We’ve done a Saskatchewan Roughriders jersey on a few occasions.
This all brings me back to my original question, “where do all the good ideas come from?” For our Toronto Blue Jays Night, I have to take you back to last year’s exciting American League Championship Series between the Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals. Our Director of Ticket Sales Kellin Enslev and Business Development Manager Joel Pickering were in Toronto to take in three games. As legend has it, the two of them were sitting in the stands at Rogers Centre. At some point in the series, Kellin looked at Joel and asked the proverbial question, “what do you think if……?”
To go from posing a seemingly harmless question to the reality of our announcement last Monday is no small accomplishment. It took countless hours of work, letters and approvals of both Major League Baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays.
The question has inevitably been asked, “Why would a major-junior hockey team, in Regina, do a special jersey of a baseball team 2700 kilometres away?” The simple answer is perhaps the most correct, why not. Our duty to our loyal fans is to make our games a fun, exciting, memorable experience every time they come to the rink. Staples like a Taco Tuesday or Wiener Wednesday promotion are a must. Other game nights that support a community group, or highlight a serious health cause are important as well and form part of our corporate social responsibility strategy.
To do something truly unique and partner with one of Canada’s marquee sports franchises is an amazing accomplishment and one we hope our fans enjoy. The jerseys will be available for our fans to purchase. How and when are still being worked out. Net proceeds from the jersey sales will be donated to the Jays Care Foundation, which supports kids across the country. You can find out more on the foundation here: http://toronto.bluejays.mlb.com/tor/jays-care/.
We are working with the Jays on getting a couple of players to join us in January. However, as they are in a pennant hunt we won’t know, if or who may be coming until their off-season PR schedule is announced.
In the end, this event is the result of an idea shared during a baseball game and carried through because of the passion to bring to Regina a night fans in the Brandt Centre won’t soon forget.
As soon as tickets go on sale, and we know who’s coming from the Jays, we will let you know. It’s going to be a great night in January.
See you at the rink, Go Pats and Go Jays.
Regina Pats Hockey Club
August 11, 2016
Good Afternoon Pats Regiment,
Well, Monday was quite the day for the Regina Pats. No, we didn’t make any blockbuster trades or something like that. We kicked off the week with the playing of the 19th Annual Pats Wickenheiser Golf Classic.
The event took place at the Royal Regina Golf Club with 144 golfers taking to the links. It’s a fun day in support of Regina Palliative Care Inc’s, Caring Hearts Camp.
For those of you who don’t know, the Caring Hearts Camp brings together over 150 children each year (in May and September) and nearly 100 volunteers. The weekend is filled with activities and therapeutic offerings to help children who have suffered the loss of a friend or loved one. Camp is held at Dallas Valley Ranch and children are able to participate in any number of activities including horseback riding, canoeing, hiking, rock wall climbing, and more. Children also take part in music therapy, one on one and group grief counselling, and are given tools to help them cope with the loss of their loved one. These strategies help them understand their grief, help them understand they are not alone in the process, and that other children have experienced the same kind of loss.
The tournament is named in honour of the late Doug Wickenheiser, one of the greatest Pats of all time. Born in Regina, Doug spent three seasons with the Regina Pats. During his final season with the Blue and White he was voted the CHL’s Player of the Year after leading the WHL in scoring. During that same year (1979-80 season) Doug captained the Pats to a birth in the Memorial Cup. His life was cut short after a prolonged battle with a rare form of cancer. He passed away on July 12, 1999. The Regina Pats retired his #12 jersey on March 13, 1999.
With a full tournament field and enthusiastic sponsors, I’m proud to say we were able to raise $16,000 for the Caring Hearts Camp. This bring the three year total of funds raised to over $40,000. That’s an incredible sum of money that helps to cover the costs of the camp so participants can attend for free.
None of this would be possible without the golfers who gave up part of their day to do something they love, and the support of our sponsors. There is no shortage of worthwhile causes to get behind. The Regina Pats are fortunate to work with so many wonderful sponsors who see the importance of supporting our tournament and in turn the Caring Hearts Camp. We cannot thank them enough for all that they do for us but we can acknowledge them here.
Thank you to everyone who joined us last Monday for the tournament, whether golfing or sponsoring some portion of the day we cannot thank you enough.
Have a wonderful day and see you at the rink. The 2016-17 season of Regina Pats hockey kicks off September 23 at home against Prince Albert.
August 4, 2016
Three members of the Regina Pats enjoyed time competing with Hockey Canada development camps this week Connor Hobbs continues with the National Junior camp, Jake Leschsyhyn and the under-18’s are done as are Dawson Barteaux with the Under 17’s.
Pats defenceman Connor Hobbs is currently competing at Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Summer Development Camp in Toronto. He had a goal in Team Reds 7-4 win over team White in the first inter-squad game of camp on Monday. A goal from Julien Gauthier with 2:12 remaining in the third period proved to be the winner.
Then on Tuesday Hobbs was in the lineup as Team Canada took on Finland in an exhibition game in Plymouth Michigan. The Canadians fell 2-1 in overtime in the contest and Hobbs saw time on both the powerplay and penalty kill. The Canadians will play Sweden on Friday in another exhibition game. Pats prospect Tyson Jost is also a part of the National Junior Camp and assisted on Canada’s lone goal on Wednesday.
Forward Jake Leschyshyn is finished taking part in Hockey Canada’s U-18 selection camp in Calgary. Tuesday he and Team Red beat Team White 3-2 to wrap up the games part of the camp White had won the two previous inter-squad games by 5-2 and 3-2 scores. Leschyshyn recorded one assist in the three games but unfortunately was not selected to represent Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.
Defenceman prospect Dawson Barteaux was part of the under-17 selection camp with Team Green. Barteaux had two assists in three games with Team Green who finished 5th out of 6 teams at the ‘tournament’. They lost 3-1 and 3-2 in OT in their first two before winning the 5th place game 8-4 over Team White. Barteaux is entering his 16-year-old season and will look to play in Regina full time this season.
Voice of the Regina Pats
July 28, 2016
Well, Regina, what to say?
I could just throw out, “so long and thanks for all the fish,” and be on my merry way (points if you got the Douglas Adams reference). However, that just doesn’t really do my time here in the Queen City justice. Four years out of twenty-eight may not seem like an overly long time, but when you’ve lived in three countries and five different cities in that time… it has a little more impact. I’ve called Regina home longer than three of those cities… and that’s really the difference. I called Regina home. When living in Singapore, Saudi Arabia and La Ronge, somewhere else was always home. Regina welcomed me in and I was able to build a life here in my relatively short time. I had a great job, great place to live and then there are the people. As I said to a group of friends Tuesday night after a 7-3 Regina Red Sox win, it’s the people that make any place great and I’ve been surrounded by fantastic people.
What an exciting time to have lived in Regina. The city has changed so much the last few years and seems to have grown more vibrant. Just thinking of all the options to stop by and grab some food and a beverage that have popped up is staggering. I’ve been able to watch a bunch of old warehouses/barns turn into a state-of-the-art football stadium. Despite being a Stampeders fan (I know, boooo me) it was amazing to see the excitement throughout the province at the Riders winning the Grey Cup on home turf. The aforementioned Sox won their second straight WMBL title my first year in the city. The Regina Pat Canadians took an SMAAAHL title and, of course, that segues us to the Regina Pats.
It was a fun, interesting, tumultuous and incredibly exciting time to be with junior hockey’s oldest franchise. Three coaches in my first three years. An ownership change between the second and third. Launching an incredible score clock (there’s a lot more to that than you might think). Going through one of the busiest, heart-wrenching and possibly most important trade deadlines this franchise has experienced in 2015. The last three years, the excitement, elation, terror and all the other emotions of playoff hockey. Yes, things have changed plenty in four years and I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. It’s these experiences that have shaped me as a person and professional. It’s these people who support me and helped me get to get where I’m going and it’s this orange-roofed arena where I’ll hold some of my favourite memories.
Three paragraphs done and you might be wondering, “what the hell is this guy talking about?” If you haven’t heard, I recently accepted a position with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose in Winnipeg. It’s an amazing opportunity to work with True North Sports and Entertainment and I can’t wait to get started (on Tuesday actually). Now, you might not really care about who I am or where I’m going. That’s okay, because this isn’t really about me in the end. It’s an opportunity for me to tell you about the amazing people and experiences this city hold for those who spend time here.
So… without further preamble… the thank yous.
We wouldn’t be having this conversation without the opportunity given to me by Cliff Mapes, Chad Lang along with Brent, Russ and Diane Parker. They gave a radio broadcaster without a lick of true communications experience the chance to come in and learn. There were no shortage of hiccups in that first year, but the faith they placed in me allowed me to make those mistakes, learn from them and get better every day. A special thank you to Cliff Mapes. I find it’s rare your ‘boss’ becomes a friend, but through everything Cliffy has been a mentor, leader and a true friend. He gave so much to the Regina Pats and the community in his time with the organization and I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the chance to acknowledge that.
Getting back to the people making things great, it was easy to come to work with such amazing peers. The faces have changed during my time with the Pats, but the attitude and drive to be the best stayed the same. If I try to list everyone I’ll inevitably leave someone out so I’ll save myself that embarrassment and name out the three people who have been here my four years. Jan Hockley actually misses that ‘distinction’ (if you can call it that) by one day as it’s her last day with the Pats today. Would it be extreme to call her one of the faces of the franchise? Maybe, but if you’ve been around the Pats as a fan or sponsor you’ve probably run into her at some point. One part bookkeeper, one part customer service guru and one part office mom, Jan is as important a staff member as has been here for this organization. She also made sure we got paid every week, and I think we can all give props to the people who make that happen. Someone you might not have dealt with, but would surely recognize is Greg Mayer. The guy has been lurking behind the Pats bench for a long time after all. He can hide it behind a gruff exterior sometimes, but I don’t know if I’ve ever met someone with as big a heart as Greg. He treats the players like his own and takes such good care of them. If I ever have a kid playing hockey, I can only hope they have as good an athletic therapist as Greg. Joel Pickering. Here’s the guy most of you probably don’t know, and he’s happy to keep it that way. As the game night director in my four seasons he experienced a quantum leap forward. Went from cobbling together a game night with whatever resources we could put together to the best score clock system in the league. That is not an easy transition. “Off the ice”, so to speak, if management are the ‘coaches’ then Joel is the captain; a leader in every sense of the word. During some of the tumultuous times of transition over the last couple years, he’s the guy who kept it together when a lot of people would have stepped back and just let things burn. These are just three people I’ve had the pleasure of working with the last four years, and everyone brings their own unique self to the table. Again, I can’t thank everyone enough for making the Pats such an amazing organization.
One of the best parts about junior hockey is watching the players grow on and off the ice. Seeing Adam Brooks come in as a 16-year old and get to where he is now with a WHL scoring title and fourth round NHL Draft selection under his belt has been a lot of fun. Brooksy is an extreme example, but you can find them all throughout the roster. Guys like Braden Christoffer and Patrick D’Amico who were basically walk-on tryouts with the team in my first year end up with professional contracts. Colby Williams shocking everyone by being drafted and then showing incredible resilience to deal with a catastrophic off-season injury. The list goes on and on. It’s been such a pleasure to come in on a daily basis and work with these young men as they chase their dreams. They will be the next generation of leaders in whatever field they move on to because of the character they possess and what they learn here in Regina. It’s definitely tough to leave this current group that may be on the verge of something truly special.
A shout out to the men who guide those players. I’ve had the opportunity to work with three head coaches in my time with Regina. All of them taught me something different and all of them brought their brand of teaching to the team. Pat Conacher, Malcolm Cameron and John Paddock have all been important influences on the Regina Pats. Their assistants have been no less important and I can’t imagine a better group of hockey operations staff to have worked with. Someone else I’ve had the pleasure of working with the last four years is goaltender coach Rob Muntain. Not only is he an incredible goaltender coach, but as a member of the Regina Police Service he’s out there every day making sure our streets stay safe. I can’t think of a better influence to have around developing players.
Ah the fans. It’s been fun, hasn’t it? I hope so. I’ve seen almost every bit of published thought you guys have put on the internet the last four years. Your passion for the Pats is a driving force in what we do every day. The goal is to keep you entertained and we strive to make a night at the Brandt Centre a memorable one whether you’ve been a season ticket holder for 40 years or are coming to game number one. I think you’re in for an exciting year as the team begins to take shape. There are a lot, like a lot, of things to like about where this team is heading. Not just for this year, but going forward as the organization places sustained success at the head of its priorities. I hope I’ll see the stands packed and rockin’ when I tune in online to check in on things.
Need to thank all the members of the media and fellow media reps from around the WHL. Without all of them my job becomes pretty pointless in a lot of ways. Regina is blessed with some great characters throughout the media and it’s been so much fun to work with them on a daily basis. Hopefully I will get to work with all of you again in the future.
I have to mention some of the great businesses I’ve worked with over the years. Special shout out to Old Fashion Foods as the first sponsor I ever signed on and Fire and Ice Custom Jewellery as a sponsor I signed on that has been with us all four years and going into their fifth season. It’s been fun to work with our fantastic sponsors on promotions and new ways of promoting themselves at the games. (There are still great opportunities available so give Joel or Shaun a call.)
I’ll close things up with my best friend, Phil Andrews. I actually first met Phil back in 2010. He joined me on my second-ever broadcast as my colour commentator when the Ice Wolves played the Kindersley Klippers. Couldn’t have guessed then that Phil would eventually become my closest friend. Over the last four years I’ve spent an obscene amount of time with ‘The Thrill’. It would be tough to find a better person. Taking the step from play-by-play to colour would have excruciating if I hadn’t been able to get along with my broadcast partner and Phil made every broadcast fun. It was unbelievable to get to throw on the headset each game and just be ourselves. That chemistry is very rare and it’s one of the things I will miss most in Winnipeg. Away from work I’ve had someone to talk to about anything and everything. It’s always tough moving around, and I think Phil was a big part of what allowed me to ‘settle’ in Regina the last while. Something guys like Phil don’t get enough credit for There are great things in Phil’s future and I can’t wait to see what they are.
Though I know he’s a phone call or text away, it will be tough not seeing a grinning Phil Andrews come strutting into my office on a daily basis.
And so we come to a close. This weekend I’ll load up a truck and hit the road for new challenges and opportunities. It’s exciting, daunting and intriguing. I can only hope I did my part to have a positive effect on the most prestigious organization in junior hockey. I’ll treasure the fact that I had the opportunity to be a part of that history in my small way.
Thank you for welcoming me into this city. Thank you for being home.
Go Pats Go!
Director of Media and Communications
Regina Pats Hockey Club
July 21, 2016
Good Morning Pats Regiment,
No matter our age, are we ever really ready to deal with the loss of a loved one? Logic would suggest that as we get older and lose someone close to us it’s through life experiences, family and perspective we are better armed to cope. We still grieve but we also continue to move forward. However, what about for children and teenagers, without life experience and age, how do they cope? Yeah, a bit of a heavy statement for a hockey team’s blog but there’s a point to this.
On August 8, 144 golfers will tee off in the 19th Annual Pats Wickenheiser Golf Classic. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Regina Palliative Care Inc’s, Caring Hearts Camp.
Now, what is the Caring Hearts Camp you might be asking? Well, the camp is a two day grief camp offered to children between 6 – 17 years old. It’s open to participants from across the province at no charge.
The camp brings together 150 children each year (May & September) at the Dallas Valley Ranch, just 15 minutes north-west of Regina. Every participant has suffered the loss of either a friend or loved one. Campers get the chance to take part in all that Dallas Valley has to offer including horseback riding, canoeing, hiking, rock wall climbing and more. In addition, the kids take part in music therapy, one-on-one and group grief counselling, and are given tools to help them cope. The strategies are aimed at helping campers understand their grief, they are not alone, and that other children have experienced the same kind of thing.
About 100 volunteers help to make the camp a success. The organizers say it’s a weekend filled with joy, tears, the chance to build life-long friendships, and supports strong mental health and total wellness for all who participate.
Over the last two years, the Pats Wickenheiser Golf Classic has raised almost $24,000 for the camp. This is a relationship we are very proud of but know we could not have done this without the support of the Wickenheiser Family, the generous sponsors we work with every day, and the golfers who get the chance to do something they love for a great cause.
We are looking forward to another great tournament at the historic Royal Regina Golf Club on August 8. While the player’s field is full we welcome inquiries from sponsors who want to get on board supporting this great cause in other ways. Those inquiries can be directed to me, Mark Rathwell, at email@example.com.
For more information on the Caring Hearts Camp please visit www.rpci.org or call 306 523-2780.
Thanks for reading, hopefully we will see you at the course and at the rink.
July 14, 2016
In the Regina Pats almost 100 years of existence, there are more success stories than you could count. Whether it be players, coaches, trainers what have you, so many go on to do great things. Some in the game of hockey and others in the real world.
This off-season and in the last week especially we have seen more of those success stories.
On the weekend reports came out that former Regina Pat and Medicine Hat Alberta native Chris Schlenker is one of four referees who will make the jump to the NHL. Schlenker was named the WHL’s top official, having received the Allen Paradice Memorial Trophy at the WHL Awards this year. Schlenker was a defenceman in the Western Hockey League from 2001-2005 playing for Regina and Prince Albert and collected 786 penalty minutes to go along with 94 points in 5 seasons.
He was always one of the best referees on the ice when the Pats played over the last couple of seasons and as always, the good ones get the call from the pros very quickly.
Meanwhile in Kelowna, the Rockets announced their new head coach this week. Jason Smith who played for the Pats from 1990-93, before moving on to the NHL where he played with New Jersey, Toronto, Edmonton, Philadelphia and Ottawa. Smith, a former captain of the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers, played 1,008 games over a 15-year career in the NHL, and was most recently an assistant coach with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators for the past two seasons.
Just a month ago we saw former Regina Pat Dyson Stevenson win a second straight ECHL Kelly Cup Championship with the Allen Americans.
The examples are endless and in 100 years they should be. A proud organization, proud of their alumni, on and off the ice.
Play By Play Voice of the Regina Pats
July 7, 2016
Two years. 24 months. 730 days.
A lot can happen over that stretch of time. For two Regina Pats defencemen those two years progressed in very different ways, but intersected at some very key moments and came to a similar result.
Let’s start with those intersection points. The 2015 NHL Draft saw Connor Hobbs selected in the 5th round by the Washington Capitals. The organization already featuring Pats-developed talent including Garrett Mitchell and Chandler Stephenson spoke Colby Williams’ name into the mic a round later. Weeks later, the pair were chatting with another former Pats defenceman and, now Jack Adams trophy winner, Barry Trotz. Fast forward a year and both have signed professional contracts with the organization. Hobbs’ in the form of a three-year entry-level contract with the Capitals and Williams’ a one-year deal with the Caps’ AHL affiliate Hershey Bears. The past two seasons have been a focal point for the two defenders. They emerged as NHL prospects, battled adversity, rose above it and have continued to grow their considerable talents.
The 2014-15 season started in very different places for Hobbs and Williams. Hobbs was already on the NHL Draft radar after playing for Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup ahead of the campaign. Williams was back with the Pats for his third season looking to improve upon a solid 32-point 2013-14 campaign. 12 games into the season, Hobbs parted ways with the Tigers and requested a trade. This began a whirlwind two months months where Hobbs played for the Nipawin Hawks (SJHL) and for Team Canada West at the World Junior-A Challenge. At the end of it all, the Saskatoon product found himself playing for the Regina Pats.
“When you’re going through tough times like that you’re always thinking the worst,” Hobbs remembers. “The thought of maybe just hanging up the skates creeps into a guy’s mind… thank God I didn’t do that. Thank the Pats for giving me the opportunity, trading for me and believing I was going to help the team. I’m really happy they gave me that chance.”
Hobbs’ arrival in Regina marked a change for Williams as well because of who was heading the other way in the blockbuster deal, New York Islanders prospect and Pats Captain Kyle Burroughs. The move meant Williams needed to take on more responsibility and assumed Burroughs’ place at the top of the defensive depth chart. A couple months later, the career-Pat was a Second Team All-Star and owned one of the best plus/minus marks in the league.
“When (Kyle) left it obviously left a big spot for guys to step up,” recalls Williams. “I think that gave me more confidence. For me, when the pressure is put more on my shoulders I enjoy that and I take more responsibility onto myself and I play better under that pressure. It sucked seeing one of my best friends traded away. We started together and it’s too bad we couldn’t finish together, but I think with him leaving and such a big hole to fill I think that helped my career and helped me become the player I am now.”
After the trade worked out for Hobbs, Williams and the Pats (who went to the second round of the playoffs), the players went into the off-season looking toward the NHL Draft. Similar to the beginning of the season, Hobbs was the heralded prospect coming in ranked 72nd by Central Scouting. Williams hadn’t cracked any of the lists which wasn’t a surprise based on it being his third year of eligibility. Not wanting to focus on the day, Williams was actually taking part in a Spartan race near Edmonton.
“I wasn’t trying to get my hopes up and then have nothing happen and feel crappy after. I was just trying to enjoy the summer and spend some time with one of my good buddies, Braden Christoffer, in Edmonton and we ended up running a race. After that you feel so good about yourself because it was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. Then we finished that and to see my phone, once I got service an hour later and it’s two-and-a-half hours after the draft, to see your phone blow up for a second there was pretty unbelievable and it goes down as one of the best days in my life.”
For Hobbs, hearing his name called was a reaffirmation he was on the correct path and a reminder of what he could accomplish.
“You’re always excited when you get that kind of news. I know (Sam Steel) and (Adam Brooks) are really excited and ecstatic about getting drafted. It’s such a big step and really cool. Just to get to that next point with the Capitals it’s amazing. It’s great to be a part of that organization, they’re pretty amazing. It’s tons of fun and that’s what it’s supposed to be.”
The next season was a breakout year for Connor Hobbs as he developed into a top defenceman on both sides of the puck. He finished among the defensive league leaders in goals (19) and powerplay markers (10) while finishing second on the Pats with 106 penalty minutes. Hobbs hit another level in the playoffs and, along with Williams, was a huge part of the Blue and White finding their way to the seventh game of the second round. The Pats’ defensive scoring leader racked up 10 points in 12 playoff games.
“It’s been a goal of mine to keep on progressing and get drafted and get signed and keep on moving up the ladder. Not everyone gets those opportunities I was given in Regina my first year and even last year. I was working with the coaching staff in Regina, it’s been awesome. They’ve totally helped me to get to where I am and there’s more learning going to be done next year and I’m really excited.”
Colby Williams faced adversity in the 2015-16 season. A serious off-season injury left the Pats Captain on the shelf for the first quarter of the season. Just a couple games after drawing back into the lineup he suffered a shoulder injury again forcing him to watch games from the stands. In January, Williams went back into surgery after the first was deemed unsuccessful. He wouldn’t return until the final three games of the season and played into the playoffs. It was a season long battle to get back to playing the game he loves.
“I don’t know if I ever thought about the contract more or less. I wasn’t really worried about the future or what was going to happen. I was just worried about getting back playing and finishing my career with the Regina Pats. I was just worried about playing hockey again because this is a pretty severe injury that I don’t think many people thought this would work out.”
In the end, support from those around Williams helped him to get back into game action. Despite still not playing at 100%, Williams collected an impressive nine points (2G, 7A) in 12 playoff games.
“I was fortunate to have the coaching staff, Greg (Mayer) and the medical staff help me out. I was lucky enough to live at home and have my family helping and supporting me there. The guys on the team were really good. I have to give a lot of credit to Aaron Macklin and Cole Sanford and guys like Connor Hobbs and Adam Brooks. They helped me a lot and knew when I was having bad days not playing and they always seemed to pick me up. I owe a lot of credit to them. It’s not just a one-man battle, it’s a whole team and I don’t think I would have made it through such a tough season without my supporting cast.”
After two seasons of ups and downs for both Hobbs and Williams, the ink is now dry on a pair of professional contracts. Another step along the road to the NHL is in the books, but that comes with higher expectations and more work to be done reach that next level.
“It’s pretty cool, it’s pretty surreal,” said Hobbs of signing the deal. “You always dream of making money doing the thing you love, playing the sport. I’m really excited and really happy, but at the same time, the work has just begun. There are a lot more things that need to be done and I’m really excited for the future.”
In Williams’ case there is still uncertainty about his hand. Recovery is an ongoing process that the Regina native his happy to say there is visible progress in getting back to where he was. It’s a testament to the player he is that the Capitals will provide the opportunity for Williams to continue his growth and recovery with the organization next season. The fact that the Capitals/Bears were under no obligation to do so wasn’t lost on Colby.
“Through this whole process they’ve been unbelievable in the way they’ve treated me. I’m sure a lot of teams could have thrown me away and pursued another guy. The Washington Capitals didn’t and I have the utmost respect for them and how they’ve handled me. It’s an unbelievable organization and I’m really excited to stay a part of it.”
A lot can happen in two years. Good, bad and, of course, the every day. As proven by the current and now former Pats, resilience can get you through a lot. Hard work will be rewarded and the support of those around you is so very valuable. Two years ago neither player could have predicted the path they would follow to get to this point. So what do they think lies ahead for the next couple years?
“Oh… that is a tough one… so much can happen in two years for sure,” Williams says while considering his answer. “I think the goal is to be playing with Washington or have a good year with Hershey next year and show them I can play and hopefully get a contract after this year and kind of re-prove myself. I feel like I have a chip on my shoulder and I want to show them I can play and get my hand fully recovered. The year after that I want to try and have a strong summer and get back to where I was and go strong into Hershey. I think everyone’s goal is to crack your first NHL game in your first two or three years and I think that’s a good goal to have in your head and something to shoot for.”
“I don’t know… I don’t have the crystal ball,” chuckles Hobbs. “In a perfect world I’d want to keep on progressing and getting better and stronger every day. I want to see myself doing the best I can.”
I think it’s safe to say Pats fans can’t wait to see what’s next.
Director of Media and Communications
Regina Pats Hockey Club
June 30, 2016
Good Morning Pats Regiment,
Another NHL Draft is in the books and for two members of the Regina Pats it was a weekend to remember.
Regina Pats Centre Sam Steel was the last pick in the first round, going 30th overall to the Anaheim Ducks. Steel joins the Ducks 24th overall choice, Max Jones, as the teams two first round selections from the weekend.
The Pats other drafted player was Adam Brooks, the WHL’s reigning scoring champion. Brooks was the first pick of the fourth round, 92nd overall to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Winnipeg native joins the Leafs who had the first overall pick, selecting Auston Matthews.
This was my second experience at an NHL Draft. Last year I had the privilege to cover five members of the Regina Pats (Sergey Zborovskiy – 79th, Austin Wagner – 99th, Jesse Gabrielle – 105th, Connor Hobbs – 143rd, Colby Williams – 173rd) all get drafted by NHL teams.
This may be a fairly obvious statement but the draft is a truly unique event in sport for several reasons. Let’s talk about the obvious…the players. No matter the sport you play, the minute you put on a helmet or lace up skates for the first time, who doesn’t dream about being a professional athlete? One of the steps along that road is the draft.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say early on in Sam Steel’s hockey career there was always a buzz about his potential to go get drafted early. That buzz ramped up in his rookie WHL campaign when over 61 games he tallied 54 points (17G, 37A). He improved upon that last season, playing in all 72 games, posting 70 points (23G, 47A). Going into the draft, Sam was ranked 30th among North American skaters by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service. Most of the “pundits” had Sam anywhere from 40 to 56 in their mock drafts.
When his name was called 30th, one can only image the sense of accomplishment and pure joy he, his family and his coaches felt. I interviewed his Dad, Larry, right after Sam was picked and he was almost speechless.
Now, I know a lot goes into why or why not a player is picked, but what’s interesting to me (and what I’m about to write is not scientific) is Sam’s statistics from 2015-16 are better than the three offensive guys who went before him.
Sam Steel – 30th Overall (Regina Pats) – 72 games (23G, 47A)
Trent Frederic – 29th Overall (U.S. Under 18 National Team) – 23 games (4G, 10A)
Brett Howden – 27th Overall (Moose Jaw Warriors) – 68 games (24G, 40A)
Tage Thompson – 26th Overall (U. of Conneticut) – 30 games (14G, 18A)
My point in all of this is regardless of expectations, statistics, or whatever, Sam Steel will forever be a first round selection and he’s earned it. His play on the ice is one thing, but it’s the stuff fans don’t see like the hours in the gym, the countless video sessions and meetings, plus sacrificing by living away from his family and friends. All of that played a part in his first round selection.
The other interesting thing about this year’s draft is where would Adam Brooks get picked, or would he even get picked? A lot has been written about how far Adam’s career has come since he first joined the Pats. From not being used, to being under-utilized before John Paddock joined the organization, Adam’s prospects of being drafted by an NHL club was remote at best. In his first two years, Adam had a total of 8 goals and 15 assists.
To the credit of John Paddock and his staff, they saw what other hadn’t about the type of player Adam was and could be. In their first year together (2014-15), Adam posted 62 points (30G, 32A). However, no teams took interest in him at draft time. He did get an invite to the New York Rangers Fall Rookie Camp.
Fast forward to the 2015-16 season and the amazing year Adam had. Over 72 games, Brooks tallied 120 points (38G, 82A) earning him the WHL scoring title. When asked on several occasions about the season Adam was having, his head coach wasn’t surprised. With the combination of ice-time and opportunity, Paddock felt the 19 year-old was just making up for lost time.
When Adam’s name got called last weekend, I think there was a collective sigh of relief among the Pats Regiment. The outpouring of pure joy among fans who were rooting for a truly good guy that deserved this was great to see. People cheered for Adam… a good kid, who worked hard and deserved this opportunity.
With all that being said, for Steel, Brooks and our other NHL prospects, getting drafted is just another step in a very long road. As the Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock said when I interviewed him about selecting Brooks, the NHL is the hardest professional league in sport to play in. Players need to work hard every day and have total commitment to make the NHL.
It will exciting to see the growth of these players going forward and look to see who emerges as NHL prospects this season.
In the meantime, enjoy the warm weather and we’ll see you at the rink.
Regina Pats Hockey Club
June 23, 2016
Good Morning Pats Regiment,
It’s draft week for the NHL and you can’t turn on the TV or read a website without getting the latest speculation on where prospects will be taken. It’s an exciting time for everyone involved, especially the draft prospects who have dreamt about this since they first put on skates.
The 2016 NHL Entry Draft takes place this Friday and Saturday at the First Niagara Centre in Buffalo, New York and the Regina Pats will be there.
We’re going to be bringing you the latest from the draft floor as we chronicle Centre Sam Steel’s and Forward Adam Brooks draft day.
Sam enters the draft as the highest ranked Pat by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service. Their final ranking of North American skaters put the Sherwood Park, Alberta native at 30th. Sam had a strong 2015-16 season for the Blue and White. He posted 70 points, (23G, 47A) in 72 games, while in the playoffs he added another 16 points (6G, 10A).
Adam Brooks is in his final year of NHL draft eligibility. The Central Scouting Service had him at 72 in their final rankings, moving up 35 spots from the mid-term. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native had a career year for the Pats. He won the WHL’s scoring race with 120 points (38G, 82A) in 72 games. He’s the first Regina Pat to lead the league in scoring since Dale Derkatch in the 1982-83 season. In the playoffs Adam added to his totals with 23 points (7G, 16A).
Beginning today, be sure to follow the Regina Pats on social media and the team website for information and reaction when Sam and Adam’s names are hopefully called.
Follow along via:
Team Website: WWW.REGINAPATS.COM
It sure to be a weekend of dreams coming true for many and we’re excited to be a part of it. We will talk to you from Buffalo.
June 16, 2016
The NHL Entry Draft. It’s a time of anticipation and anxiety. For some, like Auston Matthews, Patrick Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi it’s only a matter of time, and very likely within the first three picks their names go on the board. For most others selected, it can be excruciating wait that results in no small amount of relief when their names are called. The vast majority of players won’t hear their names, they won’t toss on that jersey and they won’t be greeted to an organization by fans who can’t wait to start following their careers. In many of those cases, it’s not a crushing disappointment because it wasn’t on the radar to begin with. Take Adam Brooks for example. As a seventeen year old, Brooks posted 11 points (4G, 7A) in 60 games while logging mainly fourth line minutes.
“The first year, I never really had any expectations at all,” Brooks recalls. “I was kind of just checking it out to see where my buddies from around the league went with no expectations of the draft at all.”
Things changed for Brooks’ second year of NHL Draft eligibility. The Regina Pats revamped their coaching staff by bringing on AHL and NHL veteran John Paddock to lead the way while being supported by WHL veteran Dave Struch. A new perspective gave the former 2nd round WHL Bantam Draft pick a new opportunity and he ran with it. Brooks exploded in the 2014-15 season and when the dust settled, he had 30 goals to his name and 62 points. Those marks led the Pats who wound up reaching the second round of the playoffs for the first time in years. Once the final rankings were release for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Brooks cracked the list at 176th. Now the annual intake was on his radar.
“Last year with the improvement I made going from 11 points to 62, I thought maybe there was a chance someone would take a chance on me. I watched it a little more closely to see if maybe there was a chance for me to go late and seeing that my name wasn’t called I think it was a little bit of a disappointment. It motivated me to work a little bit harder and I think I’ve put in a lot of work. The season I had this last year, I think was a showing of all the work I’ve put in to improve my game that much more.”
It’s doubtful anyone missed the improvement. If expanding from 11 points to 62 points could be considered an explosion, the 120 points of Brooks’ brilliant 2015-16 season would be a nuclear detonation. It was a slow start for the Winnipeg, MB product, tallying no points in his first four games. In fact, it was the lowest point total in the first four games of a season in his career. Following a two point night, including the OT winner, against Vancouver on October 9… Brooks went without points in back-to-back games just four more times. He was held off the scoresheet just 14 times over the remaining 68 games and posted point streaks of 18 games and 15 games.
The impressive season has been well documented, but we’ll review briefly…
- Led WHL in points (120)
- Tied for WHL lead in assists (82)
- Named WHL Player of the Week three times (CHL honours once)
- Tied for WHL lead in shorthanded points (10)
- Tied for WHL lead in shorthanded assists (7)
- Tied for 8th in WHL in plus/minus (+41) (Pats were -10 in GF/GA)
- League high 18 game point streak
- First Pats player to lead WHL in scoring since 1982-83 (Dale Derkatch)
- First Pats player to reach 120 points since 1992-93 (Louis Dumont)
- 28th player in Pats history to reach 120 points*
- 13th player in Pats history to post 80 or more assists in a season*
- 10 all-time in Pats single season assists*
Thanks to Kevin Shaw (www.theblueliner.com) for the stats marked with *. Check out his site for some numbers on where Brooks sits in the all-time career lists.
While I hit a bit of a tangent, there is a purpose to this review. Following a season that saw Brooks post numbers recent prolific Pats scorers Jordan Weal and Jordan Eberle didn’t reach in their brilliant careers, it will be shocking if Adam is left disappointed at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. The rankings leading up to the draft seem to support that. Just last week TSN’s Craig Button had the now 20-year old forward ranked 53rd. Central Scouting has him at 72nd among North American Skaters. The Hockey Writers website has him at 60 in its listing of the top 100. Now there is definite reason for Brooks to anticipate the day.
“I think it’s exciting to see how I’ve climbed throughout the season and there’s obviously a chance my name will be called. It’s been an exciting process. I’ve been through a lot, seen a lot of downs and a lot of ups. Now I’m just looking forward to the day and if my name is to be called I guess it’s a huge feather in the cap for all the work I’ve put in and all the people who’ve supported me, especially through those times when things weren’t so good.”
Despite the great season and playoffs. Despite the rankings. Despite recent work-outs with numerous NHL teams, Brooks remains (unsurprisingly for those who know him) pragmatic about the draft. He’s a mature and grounded individual who’s confident he will reach the end goal no matter the route.
“If my name’s not to be called… it’s not the end of the world. There have been a lot of players to go undrafted all their years and have still made it. Look at Dryden Hunt last year. He’s a perfect example of a great hockey player who, for some reason, wasn’t chosen in the draft, but was able to sign a contract and will have a great career. There are two ways you can go with this, if my path is through the draft that will be exciting as well.”
As previously mentioned, Brooks has been spending time with a variety of NHL clubs leading up to the draft. While top ranked prospects like fellow Pat Sam Steel were taking part in the 2016 NHL Scouting Combine, Brooks was on the move to meet and work-out with various organizations.
“Teams reached out to my agent and asked if I would be willing to come down for workouts, meetings and on-ice stuff too. It was something I’d never experienced before so for me it was nice to get into some of their facilities and check things out. I also got a chance to meet people from the organization and for them to get a feel for me. If things go well, there’s a potential any team could take you, but they’ve shown interest and if I were to go to one of the teams that had these camps I feel comfortable with a lot of the people I met.”
With the various camps in the books and now just over a week until the day, all that’s left is to wait. Brooks plans on staying home in Winnipeg to track the draft alongside his family with possible evening celebrations to be had if there is good news.
“I’m going into this process knowing there are only a limited number of guys who go every year. Being an older guy I don’t think I have too much expectations going into the draft. I’m just looking forward to it and I’ve enjoyed this whole process.”
I may be biased based on having worked with Brooks since he was a 16-year old rookie, but to me, his rise to this point is one of the ‘feel-good’ stories of the draft. You always root for good things to happen to good people and this season had plenty of that for ‘Brooksy’. There’s one more news release I’m looking forward to seeing go up on reginapats.com in relation to Adam Brooks’ 2015-16 season and it starts something like,
“Regina Pats forward Adam Brooks has been selected by…”
Director of Media and Communications
Regina Pats Hockey Club
June 9, 2016
Regina Pats forward Sam Steel is back at home after taking part in the 2016 NHL Draft Combine in Buffalo, New York last week. He was one one 114 prospects in attendance.
“It was a pretty cool experience that’s for sure. I am just lucky enough to be a part of it. It’s kind of relieving that it’s over now and you just gotta wait until the draft but overall it was an awesome experience and I was really glad I could take part in it.” Steel said.
Sam showed well in the fitness testing portion of the week, finishing in the top 25 in four of the events.
7th in the Aerobic Fitness: VO2max (ml/kg/min).
Tied 17th in the Anaerobic Fitness: Peak Power Output (watts/kg).
Tied for 7th in the Musculoskeletal: Bench Press 70-80% of Body Weight (# of Reps) where he put up 13 reps. Two back of the overall leader.
Lastly Sam was alone in second with 13 reps in the Musculoskeletal: Pull-Ups Consecutive (max #).
Steel says he didn’t hurt his draft stock with his performance both in the testing and meeting with NHL clubs. “The interviews you just gotta be yourself. I thought all the interviews went well so it’s good with that and with the fitness testing I did what I could so I don’t think I hurt my stock there. Overall though I think a lot of it relies on the season.”
The NHL Draft is June 24th and 25th in Buffalo. Steel is ranked 30th in North America by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service.
Play By Play Voice of the Regina Pats
June 2, 2016
In the first blog offering, I want to look back on our Spring Camp which wrapped up on the weekend. This is my second spring camp since joining the team and it’s a weekend I find very intriguing.
To set the scene, during spring camp we bring in a number of prospects to Regina. Our prospects are players we have either drafted or listed. Every team has a 50 player protected list which includes current, drafted and listed players. While being on the listed makes you apart of the organization, it’s only the first step. From there, players who hope to make the WHL need to be signed to a WHL Player Agreement and then compete to crack the roster. The reality is, being listed and signed does not guarantee a player a roster spot. That’s where the real work comes in, one the ice, at the gym and in the classroom.
Spring Camp serves many purposes. First, it gives our coaching staff and scouts the chance to evaluate prospects and see where they are in their development. This very important when you consider how much a player identified at 14 years old can change physically by the time they are 16.
Second, Spring Camp is a chance for the organization to put its best foot forward and show the players and their families why signing with the Regina Pats is good for the players hockey career and life in general. They get to meet and work with our coaches to see how it all fits, but they also get to see our facilities where they’d go to school, how we billet players, and what living in Regina is like.
On top of all that, one of the biggest benefits of playing in the WHL is the scholarship program. For every year a player plays in the league, they get one year of post-secondary education, at an institution of their choosing, paid for.
As an organization, it’s important for us to show the players and more importantly their parents that by signing with the Regina Pats their son is in good hands. They will get the best coaching and opportunity on the ice, but away from the rink they will be with a supportive and nurturing billet family and continue to get a great education.
Spring Camp is only one part of a long process that began months and perhaps years earlier when a player was first scouted. It’s also only one piece in a much larger chess game of continually balancing the various moving parts of a WHL roster and forecasting it’s make up years into the future.
On this Spring Camp Weekend, we signed two players including our first pick (2nd Round) from the 2016 Bantam Draft, Forward Cole Muir, and our tenth round pick from the 2015 Bantam Draft, Goalie Max Paddock. We also laid the foundation to sign a couple of other prospects down the road.
What’s interesting to me, as someone who is relatively new to the WHL, is that recruiting is a year round process which requires more man hours and effort than I ever realized. When it comes to building a championship calibre team, this is one of the cornerstones where it all starts.