The 28 players left on the Moose Jaw Warriors roster continued to battle for spots as they practiced for an hour at Mosaic Place on Wednesday afternoon. Veterans and prospects worked together on the ice with the coaching staff on drills and learning the systems.
After the rookie game on Tuesday night, the Warriors shaved their lineup to 28 players that will be practicing throughout the week and into the exhibition season. That includes three goaltenders, eight defencemen and 17 forwards.
The Warriors have veterans Kendall McFaull, Joel Edmundson, Morgan Rielly, Travis Brown, Braiden Doucette and Reid Jackson on the back end. Spencer Morse and Kirk Johnson are looking to earn their spot on the rotation.
“I think for the time being, we will have eight,” stated Mike Stothers, head coach of the Warriors.
Morse was drafted 43rd overall in the 2010 Bantam draft and saw some action with the Warriors last season, one game in the regular season and one in the playoffs. Johnson is a listed player from Red Deer, Alta. and played two games in the regular season in 2011-2012 for the Warriors.
With the uncertainty of a looming lockout in the National Hockey League, the Warriors don’t want to be caught short-handed if some of their NHL drafted defencemen have to report to camp. Those players include Edmundson (St. Louis), Rielly (Toronto) and Brown (Chicago).
“With the uncertainty of what’s going on in the NHL and training camps, we don’t want to be caught short in the next little bit,” explained Stothers. “I think we are comfortable with eight.”
Even though there are six veteran players with multiple years experience in the Western Hockey League, Stothers isn’t giving any player the benefit of the doubt and all must earn their spots.
“They are all fighting for spots,” said Stothers.
Although Johnson saw limited time with the Warriors last season, the 1995 born defenceman trained all summer long for a spot on the roster. His goal is to make the team this season and continue to elevate his game.
“I think they (chances) are pretty good and I’ve trained all summer for this,” he stated. “That was my main goal from last year. I knew what I was working for.”
Morse took part in his third rookie game on Tuesday evening and felt more comfortable as the game went on after shaking off some nerves. Like Johnson, he has trained hard during the off-season in hopes of bringing his best performance to the Warriors coaching staff.
“Just like everyone else, as the game went on, I played a little bit better and everyone got more confident,” said Morse.
For more on this story, read an upcoming edition of the Times-Herald.