Regina Pats enter playoffs number 1 in Canada

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2 Sask. teams competing for 100th Memorial Cup

It's playoff time for the Western Hockey League and, for the first time in a long time, big things are expected from the Regina Pats.

It's extremely rare for the Pats to enter the post-season as the top seed in their division, never mind the entire country.

Thanks to an eight-game-win-streak to close out the regular season, the Pats (52-12-7-1) reclaimed the top perch in the national rankings, a position they held for most of the year.

Naturally, that will put an enormous target on their backs, a challenge they insist they are ready for.

"We got to take this like it's no different than any other game and just play our best and do the right things and good things should happen if we play the right way," said defenceman Connor Hobbs on the eve of their playoff opener against the Calgary Hitmen.

Hobbs set a franchise record for goals by a defenceman (31) and in so doing was named the top d-man in the Eastern Conference.

In fact, the Pats dominated the list of conference awards, with Sam Steel being selected as player of the year, and John Paddock named top coach and executive of the year.

But Paddock is well aware those accolades won't mean much in the playoffs.

"We won a few games, some games, maybe a lot of games on strictly ability," he said.

"You can't do that in the playoffs probably." 

Paddock said maintaining that push or drive to be on top will be the key to success, hence the Pats playoff motto, "everything matters."

"From the amount of sleep you get, what you eat, to your preparation, to listening in meetings to your work on the ice, there isn't a lot that doesn't matter," he said.

Also significant is that pre-game speech, which is already written for Paddock thanks to a 6-3 loss to Calgary three weeks ago.

The Pats followed up that defeat, which Paddock described as a good loss at the right time, by reeling off eight wins in a row.

Forward Adam Brooks said that loss to Calgary served as a reminder.

"They gave it us pretty good and beat us 6-3 and really dominated the hockey game," he said.

"We can't take that team lightly and everyone in that room knows that."

Games one and two of the Pats-Hitmen series will be played Friday night and Saturday night at the Brandt Centre in Regina.