In the last seven weeks, Moose Jaw Warriors goalie Justin Paulic has faced more rubber than he did in the first three months of the season.
Not that he’s complaining.
The 17-year-old Warriors rookie is trying to make the most of his opportunity while battery mate Daniel Wapple shelved with an injury. In his 21st consecutive start, Paulic made 37 saves Wednesday as the Warriors beat the Swift Current Broncos 2-1.
“He was rock solid in the net for us tonight,” said Warriors head coach Mike Stothers. “His preparation is second to none. He does all of the little things right to make sure that he gives himself the best opportunity to play the best that he can behind his teammates. He’s mature beyond his years, that’s for sure.
“His enthusiasm is terrific.”
Standing six-foot-one and 188 pounds, Paulic isn’t the biggest goaltender in the world and he’s had to fight through traffic against some big teams during his streak to make saves.
“There seems to be a lot traffic in front of our net and a lot of bumping that is going on and that wears you out physically,” said Stothers. “I really feel that when he’s been on this streak that it’s been tough for him to own his blue paint. He’s battled hard and he’s stayed with it.
“It’s tough to be mentally sharp all the time and focused all of the time.”
The physical toll was starting to show on Paulic over the course of their three games in three night weekend, but he was exceptional Sunday and finished with 36 saves in the win.
Paulic has played 1,275:08 consecutive minutes of hockey for the Warriors — nearly as many hours in a day.
“He had Monday and Tuesday off. How much more rest does a guy want?” said Stothers with his tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Sunday the Warriors stunned the Saskatoon Blades by scoring five unanswered goals to erase a 4-0 third period deficit and snap the Blades 18-game winning streak.
They picked up where they left off in Swift Current. Brandon Potomak scored on the first shirt of the game to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead 31 seconds into the game.
“It’s nice to score a goal in the first 30 seconds. It might have been a bit of a carry-over from Sunday, who knows,” said Stothers.
Brayden Point stayed hot as he scored his 19th of the season with 5:57 left in the first period.
Potomak picked up an assist and Sam Fioretti assisted on both goals. The line of Fioretti, Point and Potomak has been playing well since the trio was put together.
“They seem to be clicking. (Potomak’s) speed has certainly created some confusion and some difficulty for the opposition. Pointer and Sammy have been able to be a little more creative,” said Stothers.
“You can just see that (Potomak) is more confident on the ice. He’s trying some things. He’s not just getting rid of the puck. He’s hanging on to it and making some plays.”
Chance Lund scored for the Broncos in the second period, but they weren’t able to beat Paulic again.
After the Notre Dame Argos were eliminated from the Sask. Midget AAA playoffs Wednesday, Zach Sawchenko returned to back up Paulic. The 15-year-old affiliate will spend the rest of the season practicing with the Warriors.
Eetu Laurikainen made 22 saves for the Broncos.
Jordan Wyton returned to the lineup after serving his one-game suspension after picking up a goaltender interference major Saturday. Miles Warkentine also returned to the lineup after he missed four games with a knee injury.