(REGINA, SK – MAY 23: Libor Hájek #3 and Robbie Holmes #32 of the Regina Pats celebrate a third-period goal against the Swift Current Broncos at the Brandt Centre on May 23, 2018 in Regina, Canada. Photo by Marissa Baecker/CHL Images)
Libor Hajek went from almost becoming the goat to the game-winning hero as his Regina Pats held on to knock off the Swift Current Broncos 6-5. The win in the final game of the round robin portion of the 2018 Memorial Cup sets up a rematch between the Hamilton Bulldogs and the Pats in Friday’s semifinal. Libow Hajek’s first goal of the Memorial Cup would prove to be the game-winning goal.
Still, this was not a game for the faint of heart as the matchup of Saskatchewan province rivals went down the final seconds. Every time it appeared that Regina was going to blow the game open, the Broncos would storm back into the contest.
The Pats would score the game’s only goal in the first period, a power-play goal at 7:36. The second period saw the Pats take a 2-0 lead on another power play goal this time at 10:29. The Broncos though would respond with their first goal 77 seconds later at 11:46 to make it 2-1.
Regina would make it 3-1 on a shorthanded goal at 16:09 only to see the Broncos score on the power play just 23 seconds later at 16:32. Regina would make it 4-2 1:03 later at 17:35 which was the score going into the second intermission.
In the third, Regina would make it 5-2 at 10:43 and it looked like a safe lead. Swift Current would score at 14:22 cutting the lead to 5-3. When Libor Hajek had trouble controlling the puck in front of his net, the Broncos would score to make it a 5-4 game. It looked as if Hajek was trying to kick the puck into the corner only it wound up on a Bronco’s stick.
That goal at 17:11 would give the Broncos new life but they would make the next mistake. The Bronco’s goalie could not decide whether to go off for the extra attacker and it cost the Broncos. They would be called for “Too Many Men” and Libor Hajek would make up for the botched play.
Hajek fired a wrist shot under the goalie’s glove on the resulting power play for a 6-4 lead at 18:23. Hajek’s first goal of the Memorial Cup would become even more important as the Pats would give the Broncos one more power play. The Broncos would score at 19:10 making it 6-5 and this one was not over.
The Broncos went on the attack with their goalie pulled and almost scored. The Pats started celebrating too soon after clearing the puck and if not for the Broncos failing to clear the zone the game would have been tied.
This one was insane to watch as the two regular-season rivals gave it they’re all. Neither team’s defense played well nor was their penalty kills. The two teams combined for five power-play goals in ten attempts.
Regina, Hamilton, and Acadie-Bathurst all finish the round robin with 2-1 records. Because of tiebreakers, Acadie-Bathurst advances directly to the final on Sunday while Hamilton and Regina play Friday in the semifinal. Hajek’s goal starts at 39 seconds on the video clip.