In missing the second, third and final round of the WHL postseason gave his team an exceptional period of off time between their final game of the season and the first game of the 100th Mastercard Memorial Cup, hosted in Regina.
Once again, Paddock – a native of Brandon, MB. – helped lead the pride of Regina all the way to the Memorial Cup Final. In beating the Hamilton Bulldogs and the reigning Ed Chynoweth Cup champ Swift Current in the Mem Cup round robin, the Pats had to prove victorious once again in a one-game playoff against the Bulldogs on Friday night – which they did with ease.
Although handing the Broncos and Bulldogs losses on three occasions, the Pats were never quite able to solve the Acadie-Bathurst TItan in round robin play, losing a high scoring affair 8-6 last week. Whether it was psychological or physical, Regina was once again unable to overcome the best team in the tournament, losing 3-0 in the championship game Sunday evening at the Brandt Centre.
It was a great showing by the visitors as the Titan kicked things off with 36 shots on goal through 40 minutes of play. Once again, John Paddock turned to nephew Max to lead the way in Regina’s net. The decision paid off as the younger Paddock stopped 35 of those opening 36 shots – giving his mates a healthy shot at the title.
The Pats turned things around in the third period, putting together 17 shots of their own, but Evan Fitzpatrick and Acadie-Bathurst held their own, shutting out the host, and capturing their first Memorial Cup in franchise history.
After Adam Holwell’s opening period strike for the Titan, Samuel Asselin scored the insurance marker for the visitors midway through the final frame. Ethan Crossman added an empty-netter, handing the Titan a 3-0 victory in the Mem Cup Final.
Paddock stopped 41 of 43 shots in the loss, while Fitzpatrick turned aside all 28 Regina opportunities, en route to a championship shutout.
With 13 points in just five games, Regina’s Sam Steel (Anaheim Ducks draft pick) collected Tournament MVP honours at the awards ceremony. Three Pats also made the tournament all-star team including: Steel, Paddok and Josh Mahura. Acadie-Bathurst’s Asselin, Jeffrey Viel and Noah Dobson filled the remaining three spots.
The 101st Mastercard Memorial Cup will be held at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, as the Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League will play host to the champions of the QMJHL, WHL and OHL. The tournament is set to begin May 17th and run through May 26th.