By Carter Brooks
Photo by Marissa Baecker
Sometimes, winning just runs in the family. For the 100th Mastercard Memorial Cup host Regina, one does now have to look to far to see the family connections on the Regina Pats.
That is why for the biggest game of the Pats' 2017-18 season, Head Coach and General Manager John Paddock went with his gut and chose nephew Max Paddock - a 2000-born goaltender, also from Brandon, MB. - to start in goal in the opening game of the 2018 Memorial Cup.
It was a decision that paid off mightily, as the younger Paddock stopped 31 of the visiting Hamilton Bulldogs' 33 shots, walking away with the first victory of his postseason.
The Brandon product had finished the regular season exceptionally well, but went down with a groin issue prior to the playoffs. His running mate, and fellow Manitoban out of St. Andrews', Ryan Kubic took over in Regina's crease, ultimately losing the opening round in seven games - giving the Pats nearly 50 days off between their first round exit and beginning of the Mem Cup.
The game itself couldn't have been any more interesting as Nick Henry scored the game-winner with just 32 seconds remaining in regulation, handing Regina a 3-2 victory in the tournament's opening match.
OHL MVP Robert Thomas put the visitors on the board first with a great deflection midway through the first period. Sam Steel knotted the game up at ones just a minute into the second period, before Hamilton found another lead on a goal from Marian Studenic.
Josh Mahura tied the game once again for Regina on a long wrister that somehow found its way into the Hamilton goal - bringing roughly 6,000 fans to their feet at the Brandt Centre. With the game appearing as though it was headed for an extra period of play, Nick Henry jammed in a rebound, giving the Pats their first lead of the game, with just 32 seconds to go.
Although carried by former NHL and AHL Head Coach John Paddock of Brandon, and goaltenders Paddock and Kubic, the Pats also boast a handful of other Manitoba talent on their Memorial Cup roster.
Defencemaen Liam Schioler, Marco Creta and Brady Pouteau all hail from the western portion of Winnipeg, while forwards Nick Henry, Pierce Duncan and Koby Morrisseau along belong to Manitoba as well.
Next up for the Pats is the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Acadie-Bathurst Titan, of whom Regina will play on Sunday.