The Moose Jaw Warriors proved that they could beat the Edmonton Oil Kings Wednesday.
Their next task is proving that they can beat them on the road.
The Warriors hit the road early Thursday morning with nothing but Game 5 on their minds as they try to stay alive in the Eastern Conference final.
“In the room we feel like the series might be shifting, but we have to make sure we win in Edmonton. It’s going to be a tough task in the next game,” said Warriors defenceman Dylan McIlrath.
The Warriors gave 16-year-old rookie goalie Justin Paulic his first start of the playoffs and he backstopped them to a 5-1 win Wednesday in Game 4 at Mosaic Place. Paulic will get the start in Game 5.
Starting Paulic, an affiliate who spent the season in midget AAA, was a gamble with the season on the line, but Warriors right winger Cody Beach said that the team fully believes in everyone on the roster.
“Our young guys have battled all year for us,” said Beach. “The guys that have come up since the end of their seasons have worked so hard in practice to keep us sharp. Everyone’s been positive. Whoever the coach puts in we’re happy with.”
Beach left the ice slowly favouring his shoulder in the second period Wednesday, but returned to finish Game 4. As the team loaded the bus bound for Edmonton Thursday morning, he said he would be ready to go Friday.
Strong play on the forecheck helped the Warriors score first and build a 4-0 lead. After scoring four goals in the first three games, they scored five in the win and are looking for more of the same in Edmonton.
“I think we got sustained pressure instead of just bits and pieces in their end,” said Beach who had two assists in Game 4 and was strong on the power play. “When we had them trapped in their end it was for a minute or two minutes at a time. I think that wore them down and played to our advantage.”
Captain Kendall McFaull was released from hospital Thursday after having his appendix removed and did not travel with the team to Edmonton.
The Oil Kings saw their 22-game winning streak snapped, but they were hardly in mourning. They worked hard to not talk about the streak while it was happening and dismissed it as media hype once it ended.
“Sometimes you have to step back and start from scratch,” said Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal. “I think it’s a good thing for us to be humbled a little bit. There were probably some games there (during the streak) we shouldn’t have won, but that’s all in the past. We’re just focusing one game at a time.”