The Regina Leader Post doesn’t have the stories posted from the Chiefs’ 11-1 drubbing of the Regina Pats but reporter Greg Harder shared his stories with us - one on the game, the other on Tyler Johnson’s return to Saskatchewan, a golden memory fo him. They’re on the extended entry.
By GREG HARDER
Like a scavenger at a buffet, the Spokane Chiefs helped themselves to a heaping portion of road kill on Saturday night.
Guess who provided the main course?
The Regina Pats were like a deer caught in the headlights of the Chiefs, who didn’t even touch the brakes as they squashed the home team 11-1 before a paid attendance of 4,327 fans, many of whom voiced their disgust at the final buzzer.
“To get booed in your own rink, that’s embarrassing to not only us but to the organization,” offered captain Garrett Mitchell. “We came out flat. We didn’t show up. We didn’t work. We didn’t want to play and they took it to us.”
The effort, or lack thereof, left some players virtually speechless while others could only whisper adjectives like “embarrassing” and “unacceptable” — none of which seemed completely adequate for the occasion.
It was Regina’s most-lopsided defeat in eight years, matching a 10-0 loss in Moose Jaw on Oct. 26, 2002. More importantly, the Pats’ first winning streak of the campaign — a modest three games — came crashing to a hault, sending them back to the drawing board just when they appeared to be turning the corner.
“I don’t really have an answer,” said defenceman Brandon Davidson. “We were on a roll, then something like this happens. It was horrible, it was a disgrace. It hurt our pride. I can’t really put it into words. It’s just really frustrating. This is something that hurts for more than a day. It’ll always kind of be there. I hope we can move on from it.”
Spokane led 2-0 after 20 minutes and extended it to 7-0 before rookie Dyson Stevenson got Regina on the board late in the middle frame with his first WHL goal. The Chiefs added four more in the third period, including Levko Koper’s short-handed marker to cap a six-point night (two goals and four assists). Linemate Tyler Johnson added two goals and two assists.
Pats goaltender Damien Ketlo, starting his fifth straight game, got the hook in the second period after allowing four goals on 16 shots. On the next shift, Mitchell tried to spur some life out of his team by dropping the gloves with Spokane’s Corbin Baldwin. After landing a couple of big shots in the spirited tilt, Mitchell screamed at his own bench while on the way to the penalty box.
The words fell on deaf ears.
“I was just trying to get something going,” he said. “It didn’t work.”
Regina’s apathy was a stark contrast to the performance of the road-hungry Chiefs, whose quick and relentless attack took a page right out of the Pats’ playbook.
“They played the exact game we have to play to have success,” added Mitchell.
Sadly, head coach Curtis Hunt has seen this movie before. The latest version, however, was a true Halloween horror.
“It’s funny,” said Hunt. “Whenever we’ve lost, teams have done to us what is essentially our gameplan: Use your speed, advance pucks, get in on the body, win battles, compete in tough areas and shoot everything.
“We have a funny group that doesn’t seem to be able to handle success. We have a good team. But we need to play a certain way.”
EXTRAS: Marek Kalus, the younger brother of former Pats star Petr Kalus, had two goals and one assist for the Chiefs, who got singles from Mike Aviani, Jared Cowen, Cole Hamblin, Anthony Barbaro and Collin Valcourt … Pats backup Dawson Guhle, in his first action since Oct. 6, showed his rust while being shelled for seven goals on 28 shots … G James Reid got the win for the Chiefs (6-7-0-0), who outshot Regina 44-21 … Pats RW Andrew Rieder was knocked out of the game due to an apparent shoulder/collarbone injury … The Pats (5-8-1-1) are idle until next Friday when they open a home-and-home set against the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors.
By GREG HARDER
Tyler Johnson will never forget his last visit to Saskatchewan.
Nor will many Canadians.
“We broke the Eberle curse,” offered Johnson, a member of the American team that beat Canada in the gold-medal final of the 2010 world junior hockey championship. “When you play Canada it’s an unbelievable feeling. I can’t even describe how it feels to play against them, especially with the fans in Canada. We had really close games every single time I’ve played against them. I expect that to continue as the teams go on. It’s just a lot of fun.”
Johnson had a little more fun on Saturday at the Brandt Centre when he recorded two goals and two assists for the Spokane Chiefs in an 11-1 annihilation of the host Regina Pats.
The “Eberle curse,” as Johnson called it, is a reference to former Pats sniper Jordan Eberle, who was an American nemesis during his two trips to the world juniors. Despite two late goals by Eberle in the 2010 final, the U.S. persevered with a 6-5 overtime win at Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon.
Johnson is slated to return to the scene of the crime on Tuesday when the Chiefs visit the Saskatoon Blades.
“The three weeks I was with that team, it felt like a year, we had so many memories and so much fun,” recalled Johnson, 20. “There’s tons of things. I remember the crowd and the fans and everyone around, just so supportive of hockey. It’s unbelievable. You don’t quite get that in the States so it was really cool to be a part of that. I love this province. I love Canada, being up here playing in front of these fans. It was fun because of the adversity we had to face. It really put some fire into us and made us play hard.”
Johnson’s tour of duty with Team USA included a brief stopover at the Brandt Centre, which was home to half the preliminary-round games in the world junior tournament. The Americans practiced in Regina before moving on to their home base in Saskatoon.
“It was a great time in my life and I’m always going to remember that,” he said. “Coming back to Regina, as soon as we pulled in, I remembered sitting outside in the Team USA bus. It was really cool being back. It was cool seeing everybody and I can’t wait to go back to Saskatoon.”
Johnson chuckled when asked if he was relieved that he no longer had to contend with Eberle. The 20-year-old Regina product graduated from the WHL last season and is now toiling with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.
“I know Eberle,” added Johnson, a native of Spokane. “He’s a good guy. I wish him the best. He’s doing a hell of a job (in the NHL), so keep going.”
Unless, of course, he’s playing the Americans.