Regina Pats prepare for ‘battle’ in home opener against Moose Jaw Warriors

WATCH: The Regina Pats look to start the season on the right foot as they play host to the Moose Jaw Warriors in Western Hockey League (WHL) action on Friday night. Jonathan Guignard reports.

After a long off-season, the Regina Pats are back at it.

The Pats open up the regular season at home against the Moose Jaw Warriors in Western Hockey League (WHL) action Friday.

“We’ve been here close to a month just kind of practicing and playing a few preseason games, but it will be fun to have the real bullets start flying,” said Max Paddock, Regina Pats goalie.

That excitement is shared throughout the dressing room.

READ MORE: Regina Pats acquire goalie Danton Belluk from Everett Silvertips

“It’s been on the back of everybody’s mind for however long we had off. Now that it’s finally here, it’s just all excitement,” said Austin Pratt, Regina Pats captain.

Coming off of a rebuild year, the Pats have higher expectations heading into the season – and are looking for a strong start.

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“The past two years we haven’t had good starts and it’s been a little bit demoralizing,” Paddock said.

“As you win, you get more confidence in the room and guys start gelling a lot faster than you do if you’re losing.”

READ MORE: Regina Pats down Swift Current Broncos 3-2 in WHL pre-season action

With both teams in the same division and less than an hour drive away, it’s a rivalry players get excited for.

“The energy is going to be way up. They’re a team that we definitely don’t like here and they don’t like us so it’s going to be one of those games that will be a battle,” Pratt said.

Led by newly-appointed captain Pratt, the Pats are relying heavily on their leadership group.

“It’s a real important group to us, an extension of us as coaches. For them, it’s important they carry themselves the right way on and off the ice,” said Dave Struch, Regina Pats head coach.

READ MORE: Regina Pats add size to roster with acquisition of forward Drew Englot

Being a leader on the team is a role Pratt is embracing.

“I try to show the young guys the right way to do everything so when they move up and are 19 or 20, they’ve learned everything and they can keep teaching others,” Pratt said.

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A relatively young group, the Pats have one goal in mind this year – making it to the postseason.

“I don’t see why we can’t be in a playoff spot. It’s going to be hard, it’s not going to be easy and we’ll have to play hard every game,” Paddock said.

Friday’s game begins at 7 p.m. inside the Brandt Centre.