Strong core for the Midget AA Warriors
After finishing second overall last year, the journey for the title is renewed for the Moose Jaw Midget AA Tier 1 Warriors.
© Katie Brickman
Niko Wicharuk of the Midget AA Tier 1 Warriors and Jacob Elmer from the Calgary Edge Academy fight for the puck behind the net during exhibition play on Sunday afternoon at the Bert Hunt Arena. Times-Herald photo by Katie Brickman
Despite a coaching change and some turnover on the roster, the Warriors are hoping for similar triumphs this season.
There are 13 players back from the squad last season, including four that the Midget AAA Generals re-assigned and six newcomers to the team. The Warriors did lose three players — Riley Cannon, Brayden Delorme and Bhody Magnusson to the Generals this year.
In exhibition play so far, the Warriors are off to a 3-0-1 record and they hosted the Calgary Edge Academy on Sunday afternoon at the Bert Hunt Arena. After taking the lead mid-way through the third period, the Edge battled back and the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
“Our fore-checking system was working really well. For not practicing very much, the boys did a good job at it,” said Warriors head coach Darren Martens. “We have been focusing on our special teams, more on our power play and they have doing a fairly good job of that. We need to get more shots on the goalie. We never shot enough on their goalies, especially quality shots.”
The Warriors get their regular season underway on Friday evening in Melville and will play four road games prior to their home opener on Oct. 22 (7:15 p.m., Bert Hunt Arena) against the Notre Dame Hounds.
Thomas Spence and Jory Litt-Jukes are both returning goaltenders for the Warriors and will be a major reason this team is successful this season.
“I think we got two really good goalies. That is a bonus — having two good goalies,” said Martens.
Although this team has a good core, they are still trying to form an identity and building on what they are implementing in practice.
“We just want to have a good effort every night. The biggest thing is focusing on our d-zone and going from there. We don’t have a lot of offensive power this year, which isn’t a bad thing. I think we have guys that can score goals, it is just a matter of getting them all on the same page and they will create those opportunities,” explained Martens. “It is still early to tell, but goaltending is always the key to success on any team. Any coach will say that, but I think that it is the key for us. Goaltending wins you championships. If they can play their A-game all the time, who knows.”
Although they lost Delorme and Cannon, who led the team is scoring last year and were in the top players for points in the league, Martens is still impressed with the level of chemistry the players have shown thus far.
“I think this team, as a core, has played together for a lot of years. The chemistry is there and that is one thing that is really good,” he said. “The early chemistry will be very good and they are a close team. It is nice to see. I’ve had a team like that before and we won the league, so, who knows.”
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