The Moose Jaw Warriors didn’t give up battling until the buzzer sounded, but it wasn’t enough to snap their slide.
The Warriors rallied, but came up short on the comeback as they lost 5-4 Friday to the Saskatoon Blades in Western Hockey League action.
The Warriors welcomed back defenceman Morgan Rielly from Toronto Maple Leafs’ camp, but that wasn’t enough to prevent them from losing their eighth straight game.
“We played hard. We battled right to the end. We hit a couple of posts. We had some chances. We just couldn’t get the equalizer,” said Warriors head coach Mike Stothers.
The Warriors were down 5-2 with less than six minutes left in the third period when Sam Fioretti scored his second goal of the game cut into the Blades’ lead. With less than two minutes left, defenceman Spencer Morse scored his first WHL goal to give the Warriors new life with 3:56 left in the third period.
The Warriors pushed with the net empty, but couldn’t tie the game.
The Blades tried to instigate physically on the young Warriors and Stothers was very happy with how his team responded.
“We stood up to them. They tried to play physical, they tried to push us around — we matched them for that,” said Stothers. “They ran (Brayden Point) and Josh Uhrich stepped up and had a good tussle with (Lukas) Sutter. He’s just a young kid, but he was stepping up for his teammates. I think that’s what I was most impressed with: the way we held together and stayed team strong.”
Stothers felt their physical play — Kendall McFaull threw a pair of big hits right before Fioretti scored his second goal — helped get them back in the game.
Matthew Pufahl opened the scoring for the Blades with a power play goal early in the first period, but the Warriors tied the game on a Travis Brown power play goal — his ninth of the season.
Brenden Walker, Nathan Burns and Sutter also scored for the Blades.
Erik Benoit scored the eventual game-winner when his centering pass hit the skate of Warriors defenceman Tyler Bell and beat goalie Daniel Wapple.
Wapple made 36 saves as he got the start in his home town.
Andrey Makarov made 27 saves in goal for the Blades.