The Moose Jaw Warriors were cleaning out their lockers Monday after one of the best seasons in franchise history.
The players will go their separate ways and the team will be vastly different in the fall, but they didn’t want to leave right away.
“We were a tight-knit group,” said Warriors captain Kendall McFaull. “Even today; most guys would take off on a day like today when we’re packing up. The guys want to stay for another week. We’re a tight-knit group, we want to stick around and have fun together.”
The team was still digesting their five-game loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference final.
“It’s a tough few days where we’re disappointed in the end result, but not disappointed in the entire season,” said Alan Millar, the Warriors director of hockey operations. “We’re competitive people. That’s what we all play for, a chance to play for the title and a trip to the Memorial Cup.
“When you take a step back and reflect on the move in to the new rink, the 45 wins, the division banner, the development of the players and the way this group came together. You can’t not sit back and be proud of the team.”
One of the things all of the departing players emphasized was how close this team was. Kenton Miller had a career season after arriving from Calgary finishing with 35 goals in the regular season and seven more in the playoffs.
“I did not expect this at all. This year was just the greatest year ever,” said Miller who had 25 goals in his first three seasons combined in Spokane.
“Watching other players, other goal-scorers, I always thought: ‘I can do that.’”
Quinton Howden and Dylan McIlrath have joined San Antonio and Connecticut of the American Hockey League respectively. Those two players, along with Cody Beach, all have NHL contracts and will likely not be back next season.
The Warriors also bid goodbye to their trio of talented 20-year-olds. In addition to Miller, Cam Braes and James Henry joined the team on the final two days before the trade deadline.
Braes and Henry are looking to explore their pro options, but could also play in the CIS next season as well.
Miller plans to play pro hockey somewhere next season. He is hoping for an NHL tryout, but said may have an opportunity in Europe.
Eric Arnold will definitely be headed to Europe next season. The 19-year-old Swiss product has signed with a second division team in his home country.