Busy weekend ahead for Warriors
© Katie Brickman
Brayden Point (19) of the Moose Jaw Warriors and Joey Santucci (11) of the Prince Albert Raiders battle for a rebound that Luke Siemens has covered during Western Hockey League action on Tuesday evening at Mosaic Place. Times-Herald photo by Katie Brickman
Luke Siemens made the most of his final time at Mosaic Place. He was the difference maker in the Prince Albert Raiders 4-1 in over the Moose Jaw Warriors.
The Delta, B.C. native finished with 41 saves for his 32nd win of the season. The goaltender played 55 games for the Warriors last season after the team acquired him from the Everett Silvertips. He was traded to the Raiders in the off-season after helping lead the Warriors to an Eastern Conference title.
It has been a successful season for Siemens with the Raiders, as he sits among the top 20 goaltenders in the stats category. This game had a bit more meaning for him on a personal level.
“I’d say so, just on the fact that I didn’t leave here on the happiest terms with this team. I was looking at it as a playoff series. Before this, I was 3-2 against them and now I’m 4-2 and that’s a series win, so I was happy with that,” Siemens said. “I came in wanting to just play my game. The past month, I have been playing really well. Last year, at the end of the season, I had some personal issues going on and I wasn’t playing my best game and I wasn’t fully into it. Whereas this year, I feel a lot more confident in my game and I feel like I’ve taken that extra step.”
The Raiders started the season 7-0 before getting shellacked 9-0 in his first return to Moose Jaw. Siemens believes he has grown as a goaltender in this year, even as a 20-year old.
“This year has definitely been a lot easier and a lot of people forget that last year was my first starting job in junior hockey,” he said. “That year of experience under my belt has helped a lot this year and I feel like I’ve taken a huge step in my career.”
The Warriors controlled much of the play in the first period and outshot the Raiders 15-5, but Prince Albert was able to get on the board first when Dakota Conroy potted his 19th from the slot.
“Siemens played well tonight. We had to get traffic in front of him and we didn’t do the greatest job of doing that, so he saw a lot of the shots,” stated Warriors captain Kendall McFaull. “That’s how we are going to get goals…going to the front of the net and getting those greasy goals.”
The Raiders added to their lead midway through the second period on a goal from Mike Winther that just slipped under Warriors goaltender Justin Paulic.
Warriors’ rookie Brayden Point scored his 16th of the season after getting sprung by Carter Hansen as he exited the penalty box. Point was able to chase down the puck and beat Siemens five-hole.
“I think we had a few shifts where we had breakdowns and that is what cost us. We had mental mistakes. I thought that guys answered back and worked a lot harder, but those mental mistakes are what cost us,” stated McFaull. “At this time of the year, it doesn’t matter how young the team is. Those mental mistakes shouldn’t be happening. We all know what we need to do…in is a matter of going out there and doing it.”
Siemens had to make some difficult saves in the third period as the Warriors were looking for the equalizer. However, the Raiders’ Jayden Hart scored on the power play to open the gap.
Winther would score his second of the game after Mark McNeill fed him the puck for his third assist from behind the net to seal the victory. The slot was an area the Warriors had difficulties maintaining defensive coverage all game, as three of the four Raiders goals were scored from there.
“Our F3 (forward) is suppose to be there and we just have to be aware of where he is. PA does a good job of sneaking them in and sliding through our coverage where we don’t notice them,” said McFaull. “That is our job, to keep our head on a swivel and keep our sticks in the lanes and not get those shots off.”
The Warriors will have a busy weekend ahead of them as they travel to Regina on Friday and then host the Pats on Saturday and the Saskatoon Blades on Sunday.
“This weekend is huge for us, in general. I think we have to take these games one at a time and that’s are biggest focus right now,” said McFaull. “We only have nine games left, so we have to take them one at a time and work on getting better every game.”