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‘Hockey is a privilege’: Regina Pats reflect on disappointing season

It was a season to forget for the Regina Pats.

The team finished 11th in the WHL Eastern Conference standings, missing out on the playoffs altogether. With a 22-40-4-2 record, the Pats’ season came to an end after an 11-1 loss to the Moose Jaw Warriors this weekend.

“I think there were a lot of ebbs and flows,” Pats first-year general manager Al Millar said. “It’s obviously a season no one can be happy with. We’re disappointed in terms of how the last 20 or so games went.”

Coming off three seasons with a superstar in Connor Bedard leading the team, this year players were forced to step up, including captain Tanner Howe.

“I thought I played pretty good throughout the season,” said Howe, who finished the campaign with 28 goals and 49 assists. “A goal of mine was to be consistent throughout the whole season with my work ethic and being competitive each night and you want to produce points-wise.

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The 18-year-old Prince Albert product is a highly ranked prospect for the upcoming NHL draft.

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“It was tough at the start being a younger captain. I thought I had to make a couple adjustments. As the year went on, I got better at it and got better at talking in the room. It’s tough when you’re not winning a lot. It’s hard to keep the atmosphere good in the room and stuff like that but it was a good.”

While it is unknown what his future looks like, he is ready to get back on the ice.

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“I’m really looking forward to it and we got a lot of returning guys next year so we’re going to be a different team,” Howe said. “We’re going to come in with a good mentality and a want to win next year.”

Pats head coach Brad Herauf said his mindset has already shifted to next season after a subpar record this year.

“Starting at the bottom has never scared me,” he said. “I want to be playing tomorrow and never want to be in this situation again.

“Anything in my God-given power that I can do to make sure this isn’t the norm…. Work starts tomorrow for me, and the boys will get back Sept. 1 and I will be ready to go when they get here.”

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As Herauf finishes his first year as the Pats head coach, he hopes his players take away the season as a learning experience.

“Hockey is a privilege,” he said. “Don’t take this for granted because it won’t last forever.”

In terms of the next steps, Herauf and the team will begin preparing for the WHL draft and assessing where the team needs to improve.

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