A physical, hard hitting Regina Pats team controlled the style of play last night in a 2-1 win in game one of this opening round best-of-seven.
The Pats came out and played a very hard-hitting, forget about the puck and take the man mentality for the first eight minutes of the 1st period which put the Broncos on their heels to start.
Just 14 seconds in, Brett Leffler hit Michael Wilson along the end boards on what looked like a high hit or head shot from the Broncos perspective. He left the game and didn't return. I won't disclose player injuries at this point of the season but his status tonight would be doubtful.
With the injury comes an automatic review of the hit from the league office. The Broncos know how they saw it. Now how will the league see it? Stay tuned.
Back to the game, the Broncos were not at their best but give credit to the Pats who played a complete game and didn't allow the Broncos a chance to free wheel and get speed going through the neutral zone.
The Pats converted on their first two powerplay chances while the Broncos powerplay didn't execute very well at all. They've had better days on the man advantage. Going 0/7 on the PP and not making the Pats pay for their aggressive play was in my mind the biggest factor in the outcome. A 5-on-3 for 1:29 in the 2nd period didn't result in a clear cut scoring opportunity.
Linden Rowat wasn't tested all that much in the Regina goal while Travis Yonkman was solid - especially in the third period with some big saves to keep it a 2-1 game and allowing his team a chance to come back.
So tonight the Broncos will get their PP opportunities again but they will have to take advantage of them.
If the Broncos can get a split of the opening two games, they can steal home ice and get things going in their favour possibly in games three and four back at the I-plex.
- Bronco fans in attendance were making some good noise in the 1st period. A few go Broncos go chants could be heard across the rink. The team on the ice just didn't do enough to keep the momentum going after Zack Smith's tying goal in the first period on a nifty three way passing play with linemates Dale Wiese and Erik Felde.
- J.D. Watt had the officials in his back pocket early in the opening game. He pleaded for a penalty after being spun around in neutral ice and got it.... a late call by the officials. The Pats scored on the ensuing PP. He then took a dive in the third period on some back-pressure from Ryan Molle and drew another call. Our guys were all talking about some of the dives after the game. I've seen it countless times this season.... referees continue to take the bait, hook, line and sinker. Good for Watt I guess...
Love him or hate him, Watt was effective last night in his role. Although he took some penalties on his own account, the 20 year-old veteran is good at trying to gain any advantage possible.
- Last year it was Kyle Bortis in overtime in game two giving the Broncos a much needed split out of Regina. The Broncos will need someone to step up big tonight.
We're on the air at 6:30pm with the pre-game show, 7pm play-by-play. Talk to you then,