Regina Pats set to battle Saskatoon Blades in WHL first-round action

Click to play video: 'Saskatoon Blades assistant coach prepares for Friday night showdown against the Regina Pats at SaskTel Centre'
Saskatoon Blades assistant coach prepares for Friday night showdown against the Regina Pats at SaskTel Centre
Global Saskatoon's Derek Bidwell caught up with Saskatoon Blades Assistant Coach Wacey Rabbit on Friday ahead of the best-of-seven playoff series against the Regina Pats. The puck is set to drop for game one at 7 p.m. at SaskTel Centre with game two taking place on Sunday also at SaskTel Centre – Mar 31, 2023

The WHL playoffs are about to begin and with it, comes one of the province’s best rivalries.

The third-seeded Saskatoon Blades and the sixth-seeded Regina Pats will face off in the first round of the playoffs, starting Friday night.

It marks the first time the provincial rivals have had to play each other in the playoffs since 2006.

Now 17 years later, the Pats head north to the SaskTel Centre for Game 1 of a seven-game series.

After finishing with a record of 48-15-4-1, the Blades have had a season to remember. This season marked the third-best winning percentage in franchise history, and the most number of wins in a 68-game schedule.

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The Blades lineup is deep with five players scoring 20-plus goals and nine with over double digits.

Egor Sidorov is coming off a breakout sophomore season after scoring a career-high 40 goals and 76 points while only dressing in 53 games.

Captain Aidan De La Gorgendiere also had a career season scoring 65 points.

“I think everyone in that room is super-excited. We have all been waiting for this moment,” De La Gorgendiere said when describing the atmosphere of the team.

“This is my last kick at the can here, so I’m really excited,” he said. “My goal all along was to win a championship with this team.”

On the Pats’ side of the bench, it’s the first time the team has made the playoffs since 2018. To make things more challenging, the Pats have not bested the Blades in a playoff series since 1993.

But with superstar and likely soon-to-be the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft, Connor Bedard, anything is possible.

Bedard finished the regular season as the WHL leader in goals (71), assists (74) and points (145).

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“I’m super pumped,” Bedard said when asked about how excited he is to be in the playoffs. “Last year was pretty upsetting not being able to get in and we were so close. All the guys that came back really wanted it and so for us to get in is awesome.”

With other offensive threats such as Tanner Howe and Alexander Suzdalev, the Pats have the ability to score goals quickly and from anywhere.

The Pats and Blades met six times in the regular season, with Saskatoon winning four of the contests.

Three of those six games have taken place in the last month, with two games in Saskatoon during the final week of the WHL season.

Regina won 4-2 on March 19, but Saskatoon answered back with a 3-2 win on March 24.

Game 2 will be played Sunday night in Saskatoon, before the series shifts to Regina on Tuesday.

Click to play video: 'Back-to-back Regina Pats sellouts raise questions on Brandt Centre’s future'
Back-to-back Regina Pats sellouts raise questions on Brandt Centre’s future

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