Brown backstops Pats to victory

Regina Pats goalie Tyler Brown (center) looks in a shot from Prince Albert Raiders centreman Jordy Stallard (19) during the teams' Dec. 30 2017 WHL game from Prince Albert. Evan Radford/Daily Herald

Despite firing 48 shots on the Regina Pats’ net, the Prince Albert Raiders couldn’t crack goalie Tyler Brown.

The 20-year-old netminder picked up his 12th win of the season in a 2-1 road victory over the Raiders in Western Hockey League play Saturday night. Brown’s 47 saves on 48 Raiders’ shots earned him a 0.979 save percentage.

The Raiders held the momentum throughout the game: They often stifled the Pats’ transition play through the neutral zone; and they converted turnovers into offensive production in Regina’s zone.

But Brown’s consistent positioning in goal and a sticky Pats penalty kill – successful on nine of nine short-handed scenarios – held the Raiders to a solitary score.

“We were getting a little too cute. We’ve gotta be a little more meat and potatoes … (zero) for nine on the powerplay – that should be a couple goals and it wasn’t tonight,” Raiders captain Curtis Miske said after the game.

His wrist shot goal 57 seconds into the second period beat Brown on his blocker side and tied the game 1-1.

Regina Pats goalie Tyler Brown (center) slides to his right to make a save on the Prince Albert Raiders during the teams’ Dec. 30 2017 WHL game from Prince Albert. Evan Radford/Daily Herald

As for solving goalies like Brown, he said, “you gotta just keep peppering him. I mean we had (more than) 40 shots. He played a hell of a game, but we had a couple shots that we missed the net from good chances, myself for sure.

“We out-battled them, outplayed them. It’s a tough one to lose, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

After the game, Brown said the win was a gutsy one, and that “it’s good to get two points up on these guys.”

The Pats are now back to 0.500, which gives them some breathing room while holding down the last playoff wildcard spot in the WHL’s Eastern Conference; the Raiders are six points back of Regina and are fighting to get back into playoff contention after three straight losses since returning from the Christmas break.

“I think early on (in the game) they shot a lot of pucks from the outside. It allowed me to get into the game. And our penalty kill was awesome … I saw a lot of the pucks tonight,” Brown said.

Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid alluded to the same point in his post-game comments.

“We’ve gotta get more traffic, more greasy goals. Our goals lately have been bar down, and we’ve gotta get more second and third opportunities. You’ve gotta go to the net for rebounds and loose pucks.”

After Miske’s goal, the game remained tied until 13:43 of the third period.

While on the penalty kill, Regina centreman Jake Leschyshyn picked the puck away from defencman Max Martin in the Raiders’ zone.

He skated towards the Raiders’ net, managed to avoid goalie Curtis Meger’s poke check and slid the puck around and behind Meger for the game-winning goal.

“We give up that (short-handed goal) at the end, and game, set, match,” Habscheid said.

Prince Albert Raiders defenceman Brayden Pachal (8) checks Regina Pats forward Jared Legien (13) during the teams’ Dec. 30 2017 WHL game from Prince Albert. Evan Radford/Daily Herald

For his part, Pats head coach and general manager John Paddock said it was a well-played game.

The one issue, he said, was taking nine minor penalties. “It’s just hard when you’re killing that many penalties. Our top players are doing that amount of penalty killing and they don’t have a lot of energy left for offence.”

But he said the penalty kill unit’s success counterbalanced the amount of time the Pats spent in the box.

The Raiders (13-17-5-2) are off for one day before heading to Regina on Monday to play the Pats (18-18-3-0) again. Game time is 7 p.m. at the Brandt Centre.

Recently acquired Pat Jared Legien had Regina’s first goal, a sharp wrist shot 56 seconds into the first period.