Sunday, November 30, 2014

Pats athletic therapist plays role in road success

Pats Athletic Therapist Greg Mayer
  • The athletic therapist for the Regina Pats may have played a significant part in the teams' success on a four game BC Division road trip. Greg Mayer take a bow. Mayer, who was raised in Kelowna, was the architect in scheduling the trip and made sure the players had sufficient time to recover between games. It is not a perfect formula but the strategic planning appeared to pay off. At Prospera Place Saturday night, the Pats looked rested/fresh in an impressive 3-1 win over the startled Kelowna Rockets. The Pats looked like a team opening a four game home stand while the Rockets appeared to be playing the final game of a road trip that saw them visit Vancouver, Victoria, Prince George and Kamloops. Unfortunately the roles were reversed. The Pats hustled, executed and were full marks in handing the Rockets their third regulation loss of the season and extended the WHL's top teams' losing streak on home ice to three games. (0-2-1-0). The Pats ended the trip 3-1-0-0.
  • Digging deeper into Mayer's contribution to the Pats success; I was told he was at league scheduling meetings this summer because the Pats ownership group was still getting its ducks in a row in finding a coach after firing Malcolm Cameron and eventually replacing him with John Paddock. Mayer looked at the BC Division road trip and made sure his team had a chance at success by strategically scheduling the games so the Pats players had optimum rest. The trip started in Vancouver before playing in Victoria, Prince George, Kamloops and then ending in Kelowna. The mid-week portion of the trip is where the Pats recharged the batteries. After back-to-back games against the Giants and Royals, the team had three days off before playing Prince George. It was followed by another day off to close out the trip against Kamloops and Kelowna on back-to-back nights. That three day rest between games, essentially halfway through the trip, may have played a significant part in how fresh the Pats looked on the ice. Road weary they were not. They looked excited to play.
  • Ok, enough about Mayer. You can schedule the games anyway you want, but the players still have to execute and that's exactly what the Pats did. They were first on pucks, hustled all night long and were the better team on this night. I thought Rockets goaltender Jackson Whistle had an extremely strong game - again - and was the reason the score ended up 3-1. Whistle was named a game star on our broadcast considering he was the most consistent player on the ice for the home team. Whistle's best stop came when he took a shot flush off the mask in the second period that would have dropped most goalies to their knees. 
  • While Whistle was solid for the Rockets, Pats goaltender Daniel Wapple was equally as good at the other end of the ice. Wapple's best save came against Rockets forward Nick Merkley when he was allowed to skate untouched towards the net before putting a back hand shot on goal that Wapple turned aside. The save came with under two minutes left in the game and with the Pats clinging to a 2-1 lead. Wapple didn't make as many tough saves as Whistle did, but on our broadcast he too received a star for his steady influence throughout the game.            
  • How good was Morgan Klimchuk? Yikes. The first round pick of the NHL's Calgary Flames is the real deal. The 19 year-old has amazing quickness and his desire to win pucks and track back were noticeable. While he put up impressive numbers last season as an 18 year-old, I honestly didn't notice him much when the Rockets payed a visit to Regina last December. In that one time showing, Klimchuk was a non-factor. Last night in Kelowna, the Calgary resident looked like he should wear Canadian colours at Christmas time at the World Junior Hockey Championships. 
  • It was a tough night for the Rockets on so many levels. The passing was consistently off the mark. Even 6 foot passes were either in the skates or behind an awaiting teammate. Everyone looked out of sync outside of Whistle. 
  • No hitting. I saw little in the way of  contact made by the home team. It made for an easy game for the Pats.
  • Rourke Chartier picked up his 29th goal of the season in the setback. The 18 year-old scored 18 goals in November. Some players don't score than many goals in a season. Hello Team Canada World Junior team invite!!
  • Nick Merkley had his 12 game point streak snapped. Merkley had 4+17=21 over that stretch. It was the longest point streak of his career and the third longest in Kelowna Rockets franchise history. 
  • The win snapped a 6 game losing streak for the Pats against the Rockets. It was Regina's first win in Kelowna since 2006.   
  • The Rockets now prepare for a home game against the Saskatoon Blades Wednesday night. Like the Pats, the Blades will save their best for the mid-week tilt.

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