The Chilliwack Bruins have only two Saskatchewan kids on their roster, so their current six-game trek through the Canadian Prairies doesn’t represent much of a home coming for most of them.
But for one Bruins blueliner, Saturday night’s game in Regina represented a return to familar surroundings. Matt Delahey suited up for a 5-3 loss to the Pats, facing off against the team he played his first 243 Western Hockey League games for.
Earlier this season, prior to being dealt to Chilliwack at the trade deadline, the thought never crossed Delahey’s mind that he would ever return to the Brandt Centre wearing anything other than the red, white and blue of the Pats.
It proved to be an interesting experience.
“I thought about it a lot on the bus ride here,” he told the Regina Leader-Post. “I couldn’t really get the feeling for what it was going to be like beforehand. When I got to the rink, it felt different, like I was forgetting something almost. When I got out there in warmups it was weird, but once I got into it, a game is a game and you forget all about it. Things didn’t really go the way we wanted but that’s life I guess.”
The Pats built up a 3-0 lead early in the second period on goals by Jordan Weal, Brett Lefler and Jordan Eberle. At that point, they felt comfortable enough to throw some trash-talk at their old teammate.
“I heard a little bit (of trash talk) but most of it was friendly,” Delahey said with a laugh. “(Brett) Leffler and (Colten) Teubert like to get their jabs in. I knew it was coming. I didn’t hesitate to give it back.”
Hampus Gustafsson also scored for the Pats, with Weal adding his second of the game late in the third period.
Ryan Howse, Jamie Crooks and Shayne Neigum replied for the Bruins, who’ve never beaten the Pats in their four years in the league.
The Swift Current Broncos were also on that list until Chilliwack blanked them 3-0 Friday night.
Crooks had two goals in the win. Neigum added a single and Lucas Gore made 31 saves for the shutout.
In beating the Broncos, the Bruins have already recorded one more win than they did on a similar road trip two years ago.
Jeff Einhorn and Ryan Howse are the only Bruins remaining from the 2007-08 squad that went 0-5-1-0 on a trip through the Prairies.
“I remember a very sour taste in my mouth coming back home, because we didn’t even get one win,” Einhorn said. “We had our chances to win some games, and we didn’t. But this time is going to be different.”
Einhorn and company are back in action tonight, facing a daunting Saskatoon squad that sits at the very top of the Eastern conference standings with a record of 41-14-3-3.
After a match against the Prince Albert Raiders on Wednesday night, the Bruins prepare to face another heavyweight on Saturday when they visit the Brandon Wheat Kings.
“We don’t get to play these teams a lot, so when we do, we want to showcase ourselves as best as we can,” Einhorn noted. “The most important thing is to come out of every game with two points, because there aren’t too many opportunities remaining to improve our position.”
The Bruins will wrap up the trip Sunday in Moose Jaw, playing their sixth game in nine nights.
“We’re gone for 18 days, and that’s a really long trip,” Einhorn said. “But the best approach is to take it a game at a time and a shift at a time to get through it.”