The score was 8-6 but the matchup between Libr Hajek’s Regina Pats and the Acadie-Bathurst Titan wasn’t that close. The Pats played poorly and were dominated totally by the QMJHL champions. For Libor Hajek, the game raised some serious questions about his defensive game.
It started great for the Pats scoring on the opening shift just 13 seconds into the contest. The Pats looked like they would be all over the Titan. However, after the goal things went downhill for the Pats and in some cases Hajek.
Cale Fleury would turn over the puck just inside his defensive zone and the Pats got caught watching the puck. The Titan would tie the game at 1-1 at 4:31 starting a run of five unanswered goals. Hajek and Fleury would be on the ice for the third Titan goal at 5:52 which led to the duo being split up.
Hajek would have issues with his new partner Josh Mahura which led to the Titan’s fourth goal. Both would be caught on the same side of the defensive zone. That allowed a Titan player to come in untouched on the unguarded side for a goal.
The Pats would stop the bleeding for a tiny bit scoring to make it a 5-2 game midway through the second. But any hope of a comeback was killed when the Titan took advantage of a Pats turnover to score a shorthanded goal to make it a 6-2 game. The game would go into the second intermission with that score and this one was over.
The Titan would start the third period by scoring at 1:39, a goal that turned out to be the game-winner. With the score 7-2, the Pats would score four unanswered goals cutting the score to 7-6 with 1:57 remaining in regulation.
Hajek would earn a secondary assist on the Pats sixth goal for his second point of the tournament. Hajek would have a chance for a shot with just 30 seconds remaining but he lost control of the puck turning it over. That ended the Pats hopes of tying the game.
Hajek finished the game with the one point on three shots. He was even for the game but his defensive play was very suspect in this game. It just looked as if Hajek and his partner(s) just never got in sync for this game and it cost the Pats. Poor communication led to three Titan goals and while Hajek was not directly responsible for all three, he had some blame.
The Pats are 1-1 after two games with just a matchup with WHL champion and rival Swift Current on Wednesday. The way this tournament works, the Titan have clinched at least a berth in the semifinals with a 2-0 record. Should they knock off Hamilton then they would advance directly to the championship final.
For the Pats it gets interesting as they need to knock off Swift Current to guarantee they advance to the semifinal. A loss and they would be forced into what is called the “tiebreaker” game. If that happens the Pats would have to play on three straight days to earn a spot in the final. It is an almost impossible task for even the best of teams.