The Preeceville Midget Pats kicked off the playoff season February 25 at home against the Moosomin Rangers, the first meeting of a potential five game series.
“It did not start up the way the Pats wanted, regardless of the hype and huge crowd that was there to cheer them on, the players gave up the first marker not even a minute into the first period,” said Kirby Pankratz, head coach.
“After settling into the battle they came back and stuffed one in the twine to finish the first knotted at one each. The second period was a bit frustrating at times as the Pats got into some sloppy play and were caught chasing and watching the game go by with most of the chances going to the Rangers, who took a 2 to 1 lead near the end of the period.
“The guys regrouped and got the focus back on track and came out in the third dominating the pace of the game and tied it up at the midway point and then never let off the gas. They capped off the game with three more, taking the series lead 1 to 0 with their 5 to 2 victory.”
Two days later is not a lot of time off for the Pats-Rangers series but with conflicting schedules and provincials to be played yet against each other, it’s what the two teams have to deal with.
The Pats hit the road to Moosomin on February 27 for game two, and again it was the Rangers that came out early, scoring on a very nice tipped shot goal in the first minute of the game.
“I think with that early goal against again, the guys fell straight into panic mode, because they didn’t respond with any confidence it seemed,” observed Pankratz.
Moosomin kept the majority of the play and chances with that momentum swing early. The Rangers netted another and finished the first period with a 2 to 0 lead.
“Quite a few of the guys’ frustration levels and mental focus got over the edge, and they let it get the better of them, arguing calls that were maybe questionable, and just not settling in with focus, especially with so much game to play yet,” he said.
They got back into the game early in the second, cutting the Rangers lead to 2 to 1, but in the last five minutes of the period Moosomin capitalized on a power play and buried two goals for a 4 to 1 advantage.
“We played a good second, and we complemented the guys on it and tried to reassure them that if the intensity stayed up and they kept playing the third the same way without the panic they could still be in it.”
The Pats did come out with that intensity, and the players pushed hard with shots and some extremely physical play, and narrowed the gap with a great two-on-one passing play.
“That goal really boosted our bench,” said Pankratz. “We kept dishing out the big hits, and winning the puck races and board battles.
“We got to a point near the end of the third that with our momentum peaking, we were going to try pull the goalie for the extra attacker, but we got penalized on a fantastic open ice hit and we had to finish off the game shorthanded, dropping to a 4 to 2 decision. We’ve got to give Moosomin credit, they started off the game early and hard, just like I warned our team they would, and their goalie made some big saves at times. Plus, we can’t take periods off, or let frustration get the better of us.
“The reality is we are not going to walk through this series and the guys were told that, we’re going to experience many lows and highs in a long series fight that now turned into a best of three playoff out of the remaining games,” he concluded.