The Western Hockey League playoff picture is seemingly set, with the chance remaining for all of our local talent to make it. Rosetown native Vaughn Watterodt and the Saskatoon Blades are clinched into a playoff spot, same with Delisle's Jhett Larson and the Red Deer Rebels; leaving only two left in Eatonia's Cade Hayes and the Spokane Chiefs working for a spot, and Kindersley's Logan Linklater going for the final seed in the Eastern Conference.
In Linklater's case with the Pats, the team enters the weekend controlling their own fate to at least some degree. Potentially lots of scoreboard watching will be taking place this weekend, but will only matter if the Pats can take matters into their own hands with three straight games beginning tomorrow.
With three games in hand on every other team, the Pats have the least amount of games played in the WHL headed into this weekend. That's some good news, but their opponent in the first two games certainly is not. They will be matched up with the first place Winnipeg ICE.
"They are huge games," said Linklater, whose team will need to be laser focused, "Just have to go play hard, and hope for the best."
In a scheduling note about this weekends games, the Pats were set to travel to Winnipeg before returning home for their final game on Sunday, but the current Manitoba snowstorm has changed plans. Linklater informed West Central Online that the ICE would be making the trip to Regina instead, and plans have been made so the ICE don't completely miss out on being the home team.
Perhaps being at home will make things a little easier on the nerves, though the Pats owner put the pressure right back on, dubbing the game "Guaranteed Win Night" in hopes of lighting a fire under the team.
Linklater and his teammates will just have to play their game and hope for the best against the ICE, and take it one shift at a time like the former Kindersley Jr. Klipper has been doing since his call-up to Major Junior.
"I knew I wasn't going to have the role I had in Kindersley here," said Linklater about finding points in a much faster league, "I'm just doing what I can to stay in the lineup, if they want me to be an energy guy and someone who doesn't get scored on, that's what I'll do."
Linklaters confidence has been helped by the strong locker room atmosphere noticed immediately upon his arrival. It has been a great season of learning after starting the year in the SJHL, following a stint in Regina at the WHL bubble with Prince Albert. Practicing everyday and sharing the game ice with a phenom in Connor Bedard doesn't hurt either.
You can check out Linklater scoring on a pretty pass from Bedard through the related stories, and expect a local WHL check-in as the playoffs kick-off next week.