‘It was just like being a kid again’: Regina Pats reflect on Prairie Classic

WATCH: The Regina Pats fall 5-4 in overtime to the Calgary Hitmen in the Prairie Classic on Sunday.

Players described the experience as “surreal” after playing in a Western Hockey League outdoor game.

The Regina Pats and Calgary Hitmen laced up their skates for the Prairie Classic at Mosaic Stadium on Sunday.

Despite losing to the Hitmen 5-4 in overtime, it’s something Pats players say they will never forget.

“It was surreal coming out here at Mosaic in front of 15,000 people. It’s an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Regina Pats goalie Max Paddock said.

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“It was just like being a kid again. You come to the rink, you’re super excited, you don’t care what the weather is going to be like, you’re just there to play hockey.”

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Pats captain Austin Pratt scored the game’s first goal just 29 seconds in, getting the crowd into it early.

“It was really cool … it was nice to get that first one out of the way, roll from there and have a good start,” Pratt said.

Like so many of the players, Pratt said he feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to play outdoors.

“You watch it every year on TV, many games like this, hoping you would have the chance to be in one,” Pratt said.

“I don’t think it will hit me until a couple of days after, of cool this is. I’m taking it all in. It’s super special.”

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In the moment, Pratt said he’d sometimes forget where he was when sitting in the locker room.

“In between periods, you forget you’re even here. You think you’re going back for another period in the Brandt [Centre],” Pratt said.
“Then you remember [when] you’re putting on your skate guards, you walk out, look at the scenery and you have to think it isn’t real.”

It wasn’t just the players enjoying themselves, the coaches made sure to soak it all in.

“It’s the emotion that goes through you from playing outdoors when you’re a young kid, carrying over to something like this, in a building like this,” Regina Pats head coach David Struch said.

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“For us, the whole experience, the snow falling, we couldn’t have asked for anything more, but the win.”

It was even more special for Pats defencemen Nikita Sedov, who scored his first-ever WHL goal while also adding an assist.

Logan Nijhoff and Robbie Holmes also found the back of the net for the Pats. Paddock stopped 43-of-48 shots.

Mark Kastelic led the way for the Hitmen with two goals. Luke Prokop, Jonas Peterek and Carson Focht also scored.

Goalie Jack McNaughton stopped 23-of-27 shots in the win.

The Prairie Classic came one day after Mosaic Stadium played host to the Heritage Classic where the Winnipeg Jets beat the Calgary Flames 2-1 in overtime.