A season ago the Moose Jaw Warriors set franchise records by winning 45 games overall and 30 games at home.
When they open the regular season tonight at Mosaic Place, the new edition of the Warriors is looking to keep building with what made them successful a year ago.
The East Division champions may have lost 11 players from last season’s team, but the attitude and approach hasn’t changed.
“We have a lot of younger guys, but at the same time our expectations don’t change,” said Warriors captain Kendall McFaull. “We expect a lot out of them. We expect a lot out of the guys that were here last year and will have to step up.”
Even if expectations from outside the Warriors locker room are not what they were, head coach Mike Stothers tried to set a standard for the way the Warriors would work in practice and in games during his first season. Sticking to the “Warrior way” is something that has been a point of emphasis in training camp.
“I think it’s been a learning process for them. It doesn’t come easy or naturally. It’s not something they’re accustomed to hearing on a regular basis — though they’ve heard it for the last month,” Stothers said of their younger players adapting to what it takes to play for the Warriors and in the WHL in general.
“It’s something we’ve tried to instill in them and hopefully our older guys can help guide them in the right direction as well.”
The Warriors currently have 10 rookies on their 25-man roster, but six of those dressed for a game last season. That should help the learning curve.
“We have some pretty talented hockey players returning and we have a talented group of young players,” said Stothers. “We feel that whatever lineup we put on the ice we feel like we can compete. We expect to win.”
Tribe tidbits . . . the team has asked fans to arrive early Friday for pre-game festivities that will begin at 6:40 p.m. The players will be introduced, the East Division champions banner will be raised and the Conexus Warriors & Legends Hall of Fame will be on display in the north end of the arena. Quinton Howden will also be on hand to take part in a ceremonial face-off.