Warriors prospects hope they will find a niche with physical play
© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Tyler Bell, left, runs into Blake Bargar during the Moose Jaw Warriors Black-White intrasquad game.
There aren’t many jobs where trying to pick a fight is a good way to get your foot in the door.
This season, that’s not a bad way to make a positive impression for the Moose Jaw Warriors.
While there were plenty of players who tried to showcase the offensive side of their game in Sunday’s Black-White intrasquad scrimmage, it was equally important for a group of hopefuls to show the physical side of their game.
Black beat White 6-3 and the game featured three third period fights.
Defenceman Royce Rossignol began main camp Saturday by being physical and not backing down from any challenge. No one was willing to drop the gloves with him until fellow 17-year-old Josh Uhrich did in the Black-White game.
“That’s the kind of player I am and I think that’s kind of what I’m expected to do,” said Rossignol. “I wanted to get a spark for the team. We were down and I wanted to get things going.”
Standing six-foot-two and weighing 210 pounds Rossignol would be the biggest defenceman on the Warriors roster if he makes the team.
At the same time, Del Grosso is 6-1 and 188 pounds. Carter Hansen is the only returning forward who is bigger.
“I’m trying to work hard. I’m most comfortable in the corners battling and using my body,” said Del Grosso. “Hopefully I can get some scoring chances off of that.”
Del Grosso intercepted a Dylan Dix clearing attempt and went in to score. He also fought veteran defenceman Braiden Doucette. It’s not about just showing a willingness to fight, but more importantly, adding some size and a physical element to a team that isn’t blessed with a lot of size.
Del Grosso played with Miles Warkentine and Bryson Gore Saturday in a pair of scrimmages and they were an effective, gritty forechecking line.
“I feel like as camp has gone along I’ve gotten more comfortable skating with these guys,” said Del Grosso. “I don’t want to change my game too much. I want to stick with what I’m most comfortable with.”
Del Grosso scored 13 goals and had 43 points in 36 games last year in the BC Major Midget League with Vancouver’s NW Giants.
Rossignol had a goal, 11 points and 156 penalty minutes last year with Valley West in the BCMML.
Rossignol was a seventh round pick and Del Grosso a ninth rounder, but they both got a taste of the WHL last season as 16-year-olds.
Del Grosso played three games in February, while Rossignol played four games with the Warriors after the Christmas break last year and learned from the experience.
“When you’re up here it’s all or nothing. You have to be team first and do everything you can to stick around,” said Rossignol. “You have to keep your intensity up. Every time on the ice I try to make sure I’m as intense as possible and ready to battle.”
Ethan Williams also had a strong Black-White game. The 16-year-old from Winnipeg had three assists.
“I thought the game went really well,” said Williams. “It took me a little while to get comfortable (at camp), but once I did I felt I fit in pretty well. I feel like I can keep up.”
Williams also got a game in the WHL last year and is hoping to earn a full-time spot with a strong pre-season.
“I need to keep working hard and I need to be physical,” said Williams echoing what is becoming a mantra from the Warriors camp hopefuls.
Brayden Point scored a pair of goals to lead Black. Josh Uhrich continued with his physical play and opened the scoring, while Dallas Valentine, Ben Duperreault and Doucette also scored. Travis Brown and Blake Bargar each had two assists.
Gore and Russian rookie Alexei Sleptsov has the other goals for White.
Daniel Wapple and Zach Sawchenko each allowed two goals in their half of the game, while Alex Corley gave up four goals, but made 15 saves in a busy opening 30 minutes.
Brody Willms nearly had a shutout, but the 15-year-old stopped nine of the 10 shots he faced.
Warkentine and Carter Hansen had the final fight of the night.
The Warriors will play a pre-season rookie game Tuesday in Swift Current.
Warriors veterans Sam Fioretti, Todd Fiddler, Morgan Rielly, Tanner Eberle and Justin Paulic didn’t play in the Black-White game.
Matthieu Gomercic and Christos Zinis, both 16, missed the game due to injury.