The Moose Jaw Bantam AA Warriors finished the first half of their season on a losing note, but their recent play has them looking to push for a playoff spot after Christmas.
The Warriors were soundly beaten 9-2 by the West Central Wheat Kings Friday night at the Kinsmen Sportsplex. The Wheat Kings — who hail from the Kindersley/Rosetown area — lead the Sask. Bantam AA Hockey League with a 14-3-1 record.
“We had two forwards out and one of our leading guys too. That makes it tough, but it just means that everyone has to step it up. That didn’t happen tonight, that’s for sure,” said Warriors head coach Ian Riendeau.
The loss drops the Warriors record to 4-10-1 on the season, but after starting the year by losing their first six games, Riendeau feels they’ve made some strides.
“We really struggled in the first six games. It took awhile to get things together and start playing as a team,” said Riendeau. “We lost those first six games in a row, but since then we’ve played .500 hockey. If we can continue to do that in the second half we should have a shot at the playoffs.”
Before the season began, the Warriors were simply aiming to make the playoffs. They’re hopeful that if they can continue to grow as a team they can meet that goal.
“We knew it was going to be a tough year for this team,” said Riendeau. “We thought if we could be close to .500 and make the playoffs that would be the goal for us. That’s still our goal.”
Friday’s loss was always going to be a tough test, but Riendeau felt they didn’t do themselves many favours with an inconsistent effort.
Chantz Petruic scored a power play goal for Moose Jaw and captain Kyle Arndt scored a power play goal early in the third period to cut the West Central lead to 5-2.
The Warriors hadn’t taken a penalty to that point, but three of the final four Wheat Kings goals came on the man advantage.
“We have to be disciplined,” said Riendeau. “If you get down a couple of goals in this league it’s hard to dig out of that hole.”
After breaking for the holidays, the Warriors will host a team from Colorado in an exhibition game on Saturday, Dec. 29 at 3:15 p.m. at Mosaic Place.