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'It was disrespectful': Regina Pats take exception to Moose Jaw Warriors' handling of 11-1 victory

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The Regina Pats fell to the Moose Jaw Warriors 11-1 Saturday night in what was their final game of the 2023-24 season after failing to make the playoffs with a 22-40-4-2 record.

It was a heated exchange for the known rivalry teams that ended with more than 100 penalty minutes between the two squads and a full out brawl that even included the two goalies squaring off.

“Tough game last night. Obviously, the score wasn’t what we wanted it to be and a little bit of a tilt there at the end. That was my first [goalie fight]. I don’t think I won the fight but I don’t think I did too bad. Obviously there was a scrum in the far corner with Howe and I saw that. And just kind of booked it to the blue line and waited for him [Jackson Unger],” goalie Kelton Pyne described.

“I thought it was my time to kind of do something and I was just sticking up for my teammates and the Regina Pats," captain Tanner Howe explained.

"It wasn’t just one guy doing something. It was our whole team and I think that game showed a lot about us and it’ll be fun to play them next year."

The fiery exchanges continued off the ice as Pats head coach, Brad Herauf, could be seen up over the bench yelling at the Warriors side at one point as well.

That move eventually lead to him being kicked out of the game.

“I just felt our team was disrespected. I did not like the way they handled the power play units, the way that they were giving out ice time to their players and very disrespectful to the Regina Pats, and I thought it was disrespectful to the game of hockey,” Herauf explained.

Regina Pats Head Coach Brad Herauf argues with an official in the Pats final game of the season on March 23, 2024. (Courtesy: Regina Pats)

Herauf, who is in his first season as head coach, said he’s been kicked out of plenty of games as a player but that was his first as a coach.

“I don’t know if you ever get your point across. I don’t know if you ever win a fight. But this is the way I stand up for our hockey club, and the way I stand up for our team,” he added. “I don’t mind losing and I’ve been in tons of fights in my life. There’s a way to win and lose and last night I just did not feel that it was the right way for them to win.”

Alan Millar, general manager for the Regina Pats and a former GM for the Warriors, told CTV News he was disappointed with Moose Jaws’ conduct during the game.

“For me it was probably a little bit more personal with my history with the club there. I think in this situation you know certain players, Brad in particular, you have to stand up for your team. I really don’t understand the thought process by the coach in Moose Jaw. Even going back to Thursday night, sitting out players against a potential opponent and then ramping it up against one of the let’s be honest, one of the weaker teams of the league. Why they felt they needed to embarrass our team, why he felt he needed to employ and manage his bench that. It’s very disappointing for me,” he explained.

“It was embarrassing. It was disrespectful and I think at the end of the day as much as we took it on the chin. Let’s face it, you lose 11-1, it’s embarrassing for your club. But I think in an ironic way they embarrassed themselves as well,” he added.

Centre Braxton Whitehead scored the Pats’ sole goal of the game with Jaxsin Vaughan and Aaron Krestanowich credited with the assists.

The goal was Whitehead’s 17th of the season. The 19-year-old from Palmer, Alaska finished the year with a career high 52 points in 52 games.

Moose Jaw scored five times on the power play. Warriors Jagger Firkus and Martin Rysavy had an electric performance — with each scoring a hat trick.

Regina is the sole Saskatchewan squad to not make the WHL's playoffs this season and finished at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. However, the team understands they are in a re-build era after trading away most of their assets earlier in the season.

“It was a little bit what we expected coming in. We had a good start to the season and obviously we’ve made some changes and for us it was never about the result this year, it was about the process. Al [Millar] doing his work coming in here, and I think he’s done a heck of a job. He has a vision with this team. I feel that me and him are very aligned in how we want our hockey players to play. So I think that’s just the start of it,” Herauf said.

“When you look at the decisions we made around the deadline and how we feel we need to move forward. We don’t want this to be long-term pain,” Millar explained.

“We’ve got lots of fuel and we’ve got lots of reasons to move forward. There’s one thing to get into the playoffs, there’s another level to be a contender, and we’ve got a long way to get there but we have to do the right things to give us a chance to get there.”

A positive to come out of the season was the performance of first year captain, Tanner Howe, who will look to hear his name called in this year’s NHL draft. Howe finished the season with 77 points in 68 games.

“I thought I played pretty good throughout the season. A goal in mind was to be consistent throughout the whole season, kind of my work ethic, being competitive each night and obviously wanted to produce points wise,” Howe said.

“It was tough at the start being a younger captain. I thought I had to make a couple adjustments. I thought as the year went on I got better at it. It’s tough when you lose a lot of games and you’re not winning,” he added.

Herauf added that he was impressed with Howe’s performance in the face of many challenges.

“What he had to go through this year, trading away some of his closest friends, and being a leader of this team and it being such an important year. It’s been a mental pretzel for him,” he said. “I think that as an 18-year-old boy, having a heavy jersey he had to wear all year, and take on extra people’s responsibility, he did the best he could and I’m super proud of him.”

The Western Hockey League (WHL) season wraps up on Sunday and playoffs will begin on Thursday, March 28.

The first round playoffs will see the Prince Albert Raiders take on the first place Saskatoon Blades - while the Warriors will take on the Brandon Wheat Kings, the Swift Current Broncos will play the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

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