The Moose Jaw Warriors are becomming a very difficult team to play against.
Saturday the Warriors posted a 3-2 shootout win over the Kamloops Blazers, the No. 2 ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League.
The Warriors (11-12-3-4) have picked up at least a point in four of their last five games.
With the win over Kamloops they can finish no worse than .500 on their seven-game road trip when it wraps up in Prince George Tuesday.
“Looking back from the start of the trip until now, I’ve been really pleased with how the guys have been playing and how hard they’ve been playing,” said Warriors head coach Mike Stothers. “They’ve been all close, tight checking, low-scoring games — outside of the first game in Edmonton.”
Even in that 5-1 loss to Edmonton that began the trip, Stothers felt they played well for stretches of the game.
Since then they’ve played five one-goal games and have won three of them — two of those coming in the shootout. Not bad for a team that lost nine of their first 10 road games and lost their first four shootouts of the season.
“It’s a matter of playing the right way,” said Stothers. “We are playing hard. We have been physical. It’s not a matter of any one guy, everybody has bought into the idea of being hard on the puck, winning battles, finishing checks and just being annoying to play against. The kids seem to be having fun and enjoy doing it.”
The Warriors are also enjoying the high-level of competition they faced this weekend. They played well in a 3-2 loss in Kelowna Friday before beating the Blazers.
“Kelowna is a really good team and Kamloops is one of the best teams in junior hockey. They wanted to make a statement that ‘we’re here, we’re ready to play and we’re not going away,’” said Stothers. “The guys have a good feeling going and are enjoying the competition.”
Justin Kirsch and Brayden Point both scored shootout goals on the only two Warrior shots, while Justin Paulic turned away Brendan Ranford and Colin Smith.
Tyler Bell opened the scoring for the Blazers on Teddy bear toss night in Kamloops.
After the bears cleared, the Warriors got on the board when Morgan Rielly tied the game. Defenceman Travis Brown netted the Warriors’ third short-handed goal of the season with 13 seconds left in the second period to give them a 2-1 lead.
Smith scored early in the third period for the Blazers to tie the game.
Paulic finished with 29 saves Saturday. Cole Cheveldave made 25 saves in the Blazers goal.