For a team that is supposed to be offensively challenged, the Moose Jaw Warriors showed some touch around the net Friday night.
The Warriors attack erupted for an 8-4 win over the Medicine Hat Tigers in WHL play at Mosaic Place. It’s the Warriors’ fourth win in their last five games.
“I think what was nice for us wasn’t just Sam (Fioretti, Brayden) Point or (Justin) Kirsch — though they all contributed — but we got some contributions from maybe unexpected sources,” said Warriors head coach Mike Stothers.
“If we’re going to be a serious threat to make the playoffs we need guys to keep stepping up.”
Now the Warriors (18-26-3-6) are eight points behind the Tigers for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings with 19 games to go. A tall order, certainly, but possible.
“We’re approaching every game like it’s a playoff game and I think we’re all aware that if we want to play in the playoffs this year we have to play hard every night,” said Warriors defenceman Morgan Rielly who had four assists. “Our goal is to make the playoffs and that’s quite attainable.”
Rielly was on the ice for the first four Warrior goals and played his best game since coming back from the world juniors and NHL camp and one of his best games of the season.
“I felt good, but the whole team was playing well,” said Rielly. “I think it takes some time to get used to (the tempo) and to get used to your teammates again. I’m pretty comfortable right now and the team is playing great, so it’s all good.”
It was a low-scoring affair early on. The Warriors led 1-0 after a period before Curtis Valk scored a pair of power play goals for the Tigers early in the second. The score was 2-2 at the midway point before the game opened up considerably.
The Warriors led 4-3 late in the second period when Bryson Gore intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and used his speed to beat the Tigers defence before roofing a backhand shot past Tigers goalie Marek Langhammer. It was the eventual game-winner and a backbreaker.
“I think I’m being more aware, more puck ready and ready for whatever chance might come my way,” said Gore who has three goals in the last four games and seven on the season. “We had all four lines going and everyone was scoring tonight, which was nice to see.”
Gore likely deserved credit for the opening goal as well. Josh Uhrich
ripped a shot off of the post and then scored on the same shift, though his goal appeared to deflect off of Gore.
It was Uhrich’s second goal of the season. Gore had a three-point night. Colton McCarthy had a goal and an assist and Torrin White picked the top corner twice to beat Langhammer in the third period. White now has five goals on the season in 29 games.
“Torrin White got two really nice goals and he needed that. He’s been through a lot this year with the hand injury and the mono. He’s still not caught up to where everyone is conditioning-wise,” said Stothers. “He’s been frustrated, so it was nice to see him get rewarded.
“(Gore) has been stepping up his play and he’s been scoring some big goals for us — at times when we need a big goal.”
Sam Fioretti and Brayden Point both had a goal and an assist for the Warriors, while Justin Kirsch had the other Warrior goal.
Valk finished off his hat trick and Elgin Pearce scored in the third period for the Tigers.
Tigers captain Hunter Shinkaruk collided with Warriors captain Kendall McFaull in the neutral zone in the second period on a knee-on-knee collision. McFaull was turning and didn’t appear to see Shinkaruk coming until just before they made contact. There was no penalty called on the play.
Justin Paulic made 33 saves in the win for the Warriors.
Warriors defenceman Dallas Valentine picked up his first WHL point and McFaull played in his 250th career game with the Warriors.