Prospect Park: One Play Saves Libor Hajek’s Day in Pats Win

In News, Prospect Park by Jess Rubenstein

Libor Hajek (Regina Pats)

So for close to 59:27, Libor Hajek was not having the best of days in the opener of the 2018 Memorial Cup. The Regina Pat defenseman struggled with his coverages all game long and little seemed to go his way.

Hajek was even hit with a badly called holding penalty when in fact he actually made a good play. Like I said his game was a struggle for 59:27 when with the score tied at 2-2, Hajek fired a blast from the point that rebounded right in front of the net. Teammate Nick Henry was right there to grab the rebound and before anyone could make a move fire the puck into the goal for the game-winning goal.

Hajek’s Regina Pats upset the OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs 3-2 in the opening game of the Memorial Cup. Upset is the right word for it too as the Pats really did not deserve this win. After not playing for 46 days, the Pats came out flat and looked to be easy pickings for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs jumped out to a 1-0 first-period lead on a goal by Robert Thomas. On this goal, Hajek lost his check (Thomas) who deflected the shot past Regina’s Max Paddock for the goal. There was plenty of blame to go around on this goal but it was not the only time that Hajek lost his man.

The Pats would tie it up on a power-play goal just 19 seconds into the second period. Hamilton would retake the lead briefly as Regina scored to send the game into the second intermission tied at 2.

In the third, Hajek actually makes a solid play stopping the Bulldogs Riley Stillman with what I thought was a good clean hit. Somehow the refs saw it as Hajek holding Stillman and hit him with the minor penalty. The Pats kill off the penalty keeping the game tied but this was a bad call against Hajek.

The game looked for sure heading for overtime until Hajek showed off his shot. Hajek gets the puck just inside the red line and fires a low shot on goal. The Bulldogs Kaden Fulcher made the pad shot but the puck kicks back to Regina’s Nick Henry who fires it over the out of position Fulcher for the goal. The replay of the goal shows how nice a shot Hajek had here.

The goal with 33 seconds left in regulation gives the Pats their first and only lead of the game. Regina wins 3-2 and takes a 1-0 record into the round robin. The Pats will next take on QMJHL champs the Acadie-Bathurst Titan on Sunday. That game will be televised live by the NHL Network US starting at 7 PM EDT/4 PM PDT.