The Moose Jaw Warriors were due for a game where some fortune smiled on them.
After putting together some strong home performances and not being rewarded, the Warriors found a way to beat the surging Spokane Chiefs 4-3 Saturday despite not being at their best for stretches of the game.
“It was a good character test for us,” said Warriors head coach Mike Stothers. “Although I’ve seen us play better, we did find a way to win a game against a very good team that was on a really good roll. We were down by two and we battled back. We battled hard to stay with it. We didn’t roll over.”
The win snapped the Chiefs’ six-game winning streak. It was also the Warriors’ first home in their last seven attempts — a stretch dating back to Oct. 24.
Warriors defenceman Morgan Rielly scored the only goal of the third period to break a 3-3 tie. The Chiefs out-shot the Warriors 11-3 in the third period, but the Warriors were able to hang on.
The Chiefs came out strong and built a 2-0 lead after the first period thanks to goals by Carter Proft and Mitch Holmberg on a breakaway. Holmberg’s 19th gave the Chiefs a 2-0 lead.
“We didn’t play the right way. We made some mistakes in the way we checked and they capitalized on that. I didn’t like how we approached the start of the second period at all,” said Nachbaur. “We gave up three really soft goals and I think our goaltender would like to have a couple of them back.
“Give (Moose Jaw) credit, they didn’t flounder after we took the 2-0 lead. They came back a lot harder.”
The Warriors scored on their first shot of the second period when Brandon Potomak’s work on the forecheck led to a goal-mouth scramble where Brayden Point buried the loose puck.
Sixteen seconds later Justin Kirsch deked a pair of Chiefs on a great rush and when his shot was blocked it was Miles Warkentine who scored to tie the game and net his first WHL goal.
“I think in the first period our forecheck was pretty weak,” said Warkentine. “I think we’re at our best when we’re playing in their zone, getting pucks deep and getting on their D. We’re not going to overwhelm teams with our skill, so we have to grind them down low.”
The goals got some life in the building and the Warriors were a different team. Jordan Messier scored on a long wrist shot to give the Warriors the lead.
Spokane’s Reid Gow stepped out of the penalty box and scored on a two-on-one to tie the game late in the second period, but the Warriors responded in the third.
After Rielly gave them the lead, goalie Justin Paulic made sure they maintained it. He stopped Holmberg on a great chance and turned away Dylan Walchuk on a two-on-one. Todd Fiddler hit the crossbar and the Warriors survived to win the game.
The Warriors announced Saturday that 16-year-old forward Colton McCarthy would be joining the team for the rest of the season. McCarthy had played four games as a call-up in early November. In 25 games with the Nelson Leafs in the Kootenay International junior B league, McCarthy scored 20 goals and had 10 assists.