THE CANADIAN PRESS
CALGARY — The biggest goal of Chandler Stephenson’s Western Hockey League career came in front of a record-breaking crowd.
Stephenson scored with 36.5 seconds left in the third period to lead the Regina Pats to a 3-2 win over the Calgary Hitmen in a WHL outdoor game at McMahon Stadium on Monday afternoon.
"I started shaking and then saw that open spot and just buried it," said Stephenson. "I hoped for the best and it went in."
The 16-year old WHL rookie took a pass from Dyson Stevenson and roofed a shot over Calgary goalie Mike Snider’s blocker.
Stevenson and Garrett Mitchell also scored for the Pats (21-32-8), who snapped a three-game losing streak.
Jaynen Rissling and Kris Foucault replied for the Hitmen (19-37-4), who were coming off a 2-1 shootout win over the Pats in Regina on Friday.
"I don’t think we were at our best necessarily, but I was proud of the way the guys clawed back and made it a game in the end," said Hitmen coach Mike Williamson. "So many people put a lot of hard work into getting that event on the ice today and we were glad to be a part of it."
Regina goalie Damien Ketlo stopped 33 shots to record the win while Snider finished with 34 saves.
The game set a new Canadian Hockey League attendance record as 20,888 fans took in the outdoor affair. It broke the CHL attendance record of 20,081 set on Dec. 20, 2004 during a game between the Ottawa 67’s and Kingston Frontenacs at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.
"It’s special to be part of it," said Regina coach Chad Lang. "I’m very appreciative that we had the opportunity as an organization. Just looking around at the tremendous amount of work that went into it really makes you feel humble.
"I’m just glad our guys were able to get the win."
It was the first outdoor CHL game contested in Canada. Last month, the Spokane Chiefs hosted the Kootenay Ice before 7,075 fans at Avista Stadium in Spokane.
Stevenson scored the lone goal of the first period for the Pats when he tipped a point shot by defenceman Tyler Borstmayer past Snider.
The Pats went up 2-0 early in the second period when Mitchell converted a breakaway opportunity by beating Snider with a perfect shot to the top corner.
Late in the second, Calgary defenceman Spencer Humphries caught Regina forward Shayne Neigum with a heavy open-ice hit. Neigum took exception and was given an extra instigator penalty for starting a fight.
On the ensuing power play, Rissling one-timed a pass from Trevor Cheek past Ketlo to pull the Hitmen within a goal heading into the final period.
Foucault then scored to tie the 2-2 at 8:46 of the third. Humphries took the initial shot, but the rebound bounced right out to Foucault who backhanded a shot past Ketlo.
Chandler Stephenson then took a pass from Dyson Stevenson and roofed a shot past Snider in the game’s final minute to disappoint the hometown crowd.
"It’s just an unbelievable experience," Stephenson said. "Going out there in warm-ups and just looking and seeing the atmosphere and all the people there. I had some family down. I’m glad they could see the goal.
"It’s unbelievable to ask for my first year."