Duperreault scores pair in 5-2 Warriors win
When the Moose Jaw Warriors found themselves on their heels, their penalty kill put their best foot forward and swung the momentum back in their favour.
© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Moose Jaw Warriors right winger Jack Rodewald, left, avoids a hit from Saskatoon Blades defenceman Graeme Craig in WHL action Saturday night at Mosaic Place.
Torrin White’s short-handed goal proved to be the game-winner as the Warriors scored three unanswered goals in the final 6:07 of the third period for a 5-2 win over the Saskatoon Blades Saturday night.
The win is the Warriors second straight and boosts their record to 2-2 on the Western Hockey League season.
“We had two of our top D-men in the box, but our penalty kill has been unbelievable all year. We allowed one, but we got it right back, I think it was our penalty kill that won us the game,” said White who had a bag of ice on the inside of his knee. He blocked a shot there on the penalty kill Friday night, limped to the bench, but returned to block two more shots on the same penalty kill in the Warriors win over Swift Current.
“As long as you play the proper positioning and take short, hard shifts you’re going to have success on the penalty kill. Blocking some pucks helps too. It doesn’t feel good, but it helps.”
The Warriors have killed 13 of the 15 power plays they’ve faced and after scoring five short-handed goals all of last season, they have their first of the year already.
“Last year I slowly molded myself into a penalty kill guy and this year I wanted to be one of the go-to guys on the penalty kill,” said White.” Me and (Bryson) Gore have been starting each penalty kill and we’ve been getting the job done.”
Travis Brown broke up a rush and sprung White before racing up ice to make it a short-handed two-on-one. White elected to shoot and beat Blades goalie Troy Trombley short side.
“I wanted to give it Brownie, but you can never go wrong shooting the puck,” said White.
“When we talked to the players individually at the start of the year ... that’s what we told everybody: find a niche to get yourself some ice time. Be the best face-off guy or be the best penalty killer or the guy who is willing to block shots. Be a guy who is reliable in his own zone or a guy who is reliable protecting a lead. There’s lots of ways to become a guy who is very valuable,” said Warriors head coach Mike Stothers. “Torrin finds a way to contribute and you have to admire him for doing what he was asked to do.”
Ben Duperreault scored his second of the game when he broke in with Todd Fiddler on a two-on-one and took the free lane to the net to beat Trombley with a backhand. It was Duperreault’s second goal of the game and third in two nights. Duperreault’s first two goals both came when he buried his own rebound right in front of the net.
“My first two were kind of greasy goals and I got the puck in front thanks to some good plays by my linemates,” said Duperreault.
After being healthy scratched in the home opener, Duperreault centered veteran wingers Fiddler and Jack Rodewald Saturday.
“We talk a lot about making the most of your opportunities,” said Stothers. “Duperreault didn’t play in the first game, he got a chance in the second game and has worked his way up in the lineup because things seem to be happening when he’s on the ice. He brings a lot of energy, he’s tenacious and he’s fun to watch.”
Duperreault and Gore had staked the Warriors to a 2-0 lead, but Ayrton Nikkel scored with 23 seconds left in the second period to give the Blades some life.
With 10 minutes left Warriors defenceman Tyler Bell was accessed a boarding major after he checked Austin Calladine into the boards behind the Warriors net. The major was accessed after Calladine needed help leaving the ice and came right after Warriors defenceman Dallas Valentine was knocked off balance and awkwardly went into the boards.
Warriors 20-year-old Zach Hodder was given a 10-minute misconduct penalty as well which left the Tribe without two of their most experienced defencemen.
Cameron Hebig scored his first WHL goal 50 seconds into the five-minute power play to tie the game, but the Warriors grabbed the momentum back quickly as White scored three minutes later.
“We felt our identity really showed tonight as far as us being relentless,” said Blades head coach Dave Struch. “We’ll show the guys some of the mistakes they made, but in the end if we work that hard and make mistakes we’ll be fine with that because it’s all about the process for our team.
“As coaches we know it’s about the process, but we know that the players want that win. We can see it in their faces. We can see the frustration. With our leadership group, we expect them to pull through for us.”
Sam Fioretti scored his first goal of the season with 26 seconds left to ice the win. The Warriors have scored a power play goal in every game so far this season.
The Warriors travel to face the Medicine Hat Tigers (3-1) Tuesday.
Justin Paulic made 22 saves in goal for the Warriors as he made his 30th start of the season. Trombley made 26 saves for the Blades.
Brown finished with a pair of assists and has a point in every game this season.