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Max Paddock Passes First Test As Regina Pats' Full-Time Starter
By. Greg Harder
Despite a pair of losses to the Prince Albert Raiders, Regina Pats goalie Max Paddock showed his trademark resilience on the opening weekend of the regular season.
The Regina Pats are only two games into their schedule, but Max Paddock’s rebound control is already in mid-season form.
The 18-year-old goaltender got off to a rough start in Friday’s opener — a 7-2 loss to the host Prince Albert Raiders — when he was beaten seven times on 38 shots.
Just 24 hours later, Paddock rebounded with a second-star performance, stopping 34 of 37 shots in Regina’s 3-1 setback versus P.A.
Although his effort came in a losing cause, Paddock was the main reason the home team had a chance to prevail against a superior opponent.
“He did a great job,” said Pats head coach Dave Struch. “After a difficult night (Friday), he did a great job giving us an opportunity. Those are nights that we need him but we also have to help him out and bear down on our opportunities and our work ethic.”
Despite an 0-2 record, Paddock remains the least of the Pats’ worries. He’s still riding the momentum of an all-star performance at the 2018 Memorial Cup in Regina, where the young netminder proved his resilience.
After being lit up for six goals by the QMJHL-champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan, Paddock bounced back with clutch performances against the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos and the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, helping Regina advance to the tournament final.
Paddock was also Regina’s best player in the championship game, earning second-star honours despite a 3-0 loss to Acadie-Bathurst.
“Looking back, that was maybe the worst game to the best games that I’ve played,” recalled Paddock, who continues to draw upon the experience of playing against “the best of the best in the CHL. Going forward, it’s good to be able to apply that to games when we’re playing some of the top teams like P.A.”
It also doesn’t hurt to have a short memory.
“It’s just a mental thing,” he explained. “It’s always in the back of your mind that you gave up a good amount of goals the night before and then you have to play the same team again. I find it might be in my head a little bit but as soon as the puck drops and I make the first save everything is out the window and you just play hockey.”
Struch has often referenced the Memorial Cup as evidence to the fact that his starting netminder has “ice in his veins.”
Paddock needed it last season after being thrown into the fire during the second half of his rookie campaign, eventually supplanting veteran Ryan Kubic as the No. 1 netminder on a championship-calibre team.
No pressure there.
Paddock’s mental toughness is likely to be tested again this season — for very different reasons — while playing in front of a younger team that’s still very much a work in progress.
“Those are the types of things that as a goaltender you need to have,” said Struch. “It’s something you need to have as a leader too. We can watch that as a group and watch how Max handles himself from (Friday’s opener to Saturday’s rematch) and learn from it. This isn’t going to be the first time this happens to us. It’s just a matter of working through it and getting everybody on the same page.”
Heading into his first full season as a WHL starter, Paddock knew the margin for error would be smaller than when he was supported by an elite lineup capable of outscoring opponents on any given night.
This year’s team is expected to struggle offensively, placing even more pressure on the goalie.
Is he up for the challenge?
“Oh yeah, for sure I’m up for that,” he said. “Development-wise it’s great to get more shots but, any time I can steal a game or two, it’ll be good for the team and good for me personally.
“My mindset doesn’t change too much. It’s still the same game. There’s just different guys in front of me. It’ll be a little bit getting used to where guys are going to be, but that’ll come with time.”
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Paddock has trained with GDI for many years through 1v1 Lessons, Summer Camps, Prospect Clinics and the G1 Off-Season Program.