It wasn’t the prettiest goal in Jordan Wyton’s career, but it was one of the most satisfying.
After missing half of the season over two long stretches with post-concussion issues, Wyton marked his return to the ice with a goal in the second period. The 19-year-old also made a sprawling clearance in the final minute as the Warriors hung on for a 4-3 win over the Regina Pats.
“It’s probably been one of the most frustrating seasons of my life. I’ve only played 26 games so far, but I’m hoping to play 36 and get half a year in before I come back as a 20-year-old and do the best I can,” said Wyton.
“It helps to get one tonight. I was lucky. I got a pass in the slot and I fanned on it a little bit, but they all count.”
Wyton had missed 21 straight games. He hadn’t played since Dec. 29. In fact he has only played four games since Nov. 10. He had missed 35 of the Warriors previous 38 games before Friday’s return.
“The conditioning isn’t the best. For what I had, I did my best. I tried to keep my shifts under 30 seconds. Other than that everything felt great,” said Wyton.
“I’m finishing the season. I just have to protect myself in all situations. I hope it’s something that never happens again.”
Wyton’s goal staked the Warriors to a 3-0 lead, but their Regina rivals weren’t going to go away quietly. The Pats cut the lead to a goal twice in the third period before the Warriors were able to hang on.
Brayden Point opened the scoring when he was the first player to find a puck that had deflected into the air in the slot. Point corralled the puck and wired a shot past Matt Hewitt on the Warriors only power play chance of the night. Point finished with three points.
Sam Fioretti doubled the Warriors lead with a nice backhand shot before Josh Uhrich’s hard work in the corner led to Wyton’s goal.
Regina’s Dyson Stevenson forced a turnover that led to a nice finish by Braden Christoffer for the Pats.
“When you get down in Moose Jaw’s barn it’s never easy to come back,” said Stevenson. “Unfortunately we did fall behind, but we finally got a goal and it sparked us I thought. We took it to them there. We created a lot of chances that we didn’t bury.”
Stevenson cut the lead back to a goal when he banged in two-on-one chance after a feed from Trent Ouellette.
Morgan Rielly restored the Warriors’ two-goal lead later in the third, but
Chandler Stephenson set up Morgan Klimchuk on another two-on-one to cut the Warriors lead to 4-3. Klimchuk crashed into Warriors goalie Justin Paulic and both men ended up in the net, but the referees ruled the puck crossed the line before he bowled over Paulic.
Paulic finished with 18 saves.
Hewitt made 24 saves for the Pats.
The Warriors will host the Saskatoon Blades Saturday night (7 p.m., Mosaic Place).
Warriors defenceman Dallas Valentine is likely out for the season after suffered a fracture to part of the growth plate in his hip.