It’s typically football teams that get a bye week.
But in the middle of the Western Hockey League regular season, the Moose Jaw Warriors pressed pause. They’ve been busy on the practice ice, but have spent eight days without a game.
“I don’t think anybody has a break like this so late in the season,” said Warriors head coach Mike Stothers. “It’s very strange — and it’s not like we were way ahead of everybody in games played.”
The Warriors will return to the ice Wednesday when they host Prince Albert. They had completed a four games in six nights stretch that included a three-game trip through the Central Division before the break.
“It was good for us to have some time after we got back from Calgary, Med Hat and Kootenay,” said Stothers. “We had some guys that were a little under the weather and some guys who were banged up. It gives us a chance to get those guys healed up and feeling better.”
The extra time was enough to get Miles Warkentine back in the lineup. The 16-year-old rookie has missed 15 straight games since being checked head-first into boards by Prince Albert’s Tim Vanstone on Oct. 13.
“It’s tough coming to the rink knowing that you’re up in the stands writing stats every night for 15 games,” said Warkentine who has an assist in seven games.
Last season, Warkentine missed nearly two months with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos after he broke his wrist. Warkentine was red hot as soon as he came back. He had one goal and nine points in 11 games before the injury and scored 15 goals and 30 points in 20 games after coming back.
“It felt like it was a big of an adjustment period again. It was an adjustment to midget and then it was an even bigger adjustment this year,” said Warkentine. “It’s a lot faster, there’s a lot bigger guys out there. I’m hoping I can start producing a bit more when I come back.”
While the Warriors were trying to get healthier, they were also brushing up on some of their system play.
“We got to go through some system stuff and we got to do some conditioning both on the ice and off the ice. When you want to stay positive it was good for us,” said Stothers.
“Guys like to play. Us, as coaches, like to play more than we like to practice. Everybody is kind of at that stage now ‘let’s get back to playing.’”