Two-goal performance leads Warriors past Pats 4-3
REGINA — In a game screaming out for a moment of greatness, Tanner Eberle provided two of them in two shifts.
The Moose Jaw Warrior winger scored two great goals on consecutive shifts to give the Warriors a 2-0 lead late in the second period of their WHL game Thursday night. That was the spark the Warriors needed in a 4-3 win over the Regina Pats at the Brandt Centre.
"I like (playing the Pats). Even though I was getting booed for first star, I still like it," said Eberle who is from Regina. "There's nothing better than making the crowd boo. It's fun to compete against the team that used to be my favourite dub team. Now I'm scoring against them."
The win lifts the Warriors' record to 13-17-3-4 on the season. They travel to Brandon to face the Wheat Kings tonight before hosting the Pats Saturday (7 p.m., Mosaic Place).
"I thought it was a good win for the boys. It was our first game back and on the road," said Warriors head coach Mike Stothers. "It was very good at times and there were other times it was what you would expect after a 10-day layoff.
"I thought we worked hard, because of that we got a good result."
The Warriors opened the scoring with 2:51 left in the second period when Eberle circled high in the Pats' zone and ripped a slap shot off of the post and in. The power play blast was just a warm-up for his second goal. Eberle used his speed to beat the defence and make a sensational move before tucking the puck between Matt Hewitt's legs to double the Warriors lead with 53 seconds left in the frame.
While Eberle thrives as an energy player, he spent some of his Christmas break working on his scoring. Clearly the work paid off.
"I'm feeling really good right now," said Eberle. "Over the Christmas break I got a goal-scoring coach in Regina — Mike Blaisdell — and I'm starting to get a feel for a different side of the game."
Eberle spent two hour sessions shooting pucks with Blaisdell — a former Pat who was a first round NHL pick who was born in Moose Jaw.
"I got a couple of blisters from it — I shot a lot of pucks in an hour," said Eberle whose off-season training was limited after he had shoulder surgery in the summer. "I know I can hit, so I wanted to find another part of my game that I can step up."
The Warriors needed goalie Justin Paulic to step up in the first period as the Pats dominated the early exchanges. Paulic saved his best work in the second when he made a sharp toe save to stop Lane Scheidl on a breakaway after a bad turnover by Travis Brown. Paulic also managed to get a glove on a Dyson Stevenson shot while prone on his back.
After Eberle gave the Warriors a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes, the Warriors quickly picked up where they left off in the third. Travis Brown stepped into a slapshot and beat Hewitt while Jordan Messier crashed the net.
The Pats welcomed Chandler Stephenson back to the lineup after he missed 25 games with a foot injury. Stephenson spoiled Paulic's shutout bid with a nice rush on a four-on-four in the third period.
Colton McCarthy restored the Warriors' three goal lead when he scored his first WHL goal on a power play deflection.
"You can't get down 4-1 and expect to make a comeback. And when you do, they're few and far-between," said Pats head coach Pat Conacher. "You have to give Moose Jaw credit. They were pretty consistent for the 60 minutes. They played a solid road game.
"We came out in the first period and played well and then we sagged in the second and took too many penalties."
The game looked comfortably in the Warriors favour when Stephenson caught Paulic off of his post and beat him from a tight angle with 2:08 left. The Pats pulled Hewitt and Morgan Klimchuk cut the Warriors lead to 4-3 with 27.6 seconds left.
"We're just happy to get the win. On the road you don't want to be fancy, it's just about getting a greasy W," said Eberle.
The Warriors finished 2-for-5 on the power play.
The Warriors welcomed back Jordan Wyton after he missed 14 games with an "upper body injury". Wyton made a perfectly weighted clearance to kill off the final seconds.
Torrin White missed Thursday's game due to illness. He is on antibiotics and didn't travel with the team to Brandon. The Warriors were also without Morgan Rielly, Brayden Point, Miles Warkentine and Josh Uhrich who are all at international tournaments.