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Matthew Gourlie
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Stothers pushes team to step out of comfort zone

It was hard a day at practice for the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Moose Jaw Warriors coach Mike Stothers reacts as he gets an explanation on a penalty from referee Nathan Wieler in WHL action earlier this season.

The players left the ice tired and thirsty Monday and head coach Mike Stothers left the ice likely needing a throat lozenge.

The Warriors skated hard and their coach left no doubt that on the heels of their 8-4 loss to Brandon a 6-1 loss in Regina that their performances this past weekend left a lot to be desired.

“The message was that it’s unacceptable. It was a big weekend and they ended up giving up 14 goals,” said Stothers.

A hard skate on a Monday isn’t unusual. Neither is Stothers voicing his displeasure during practice. Still as as the Warriors sit with an 8-18-3-2 record and are coming off of a loss when they only managed 14 shots, it is clear that Stothers’ patience has worn thin.

“There’s lots of times when people thought I was going to be hard on them and I went the other direction,” said Stothers who preached patience earlier in the season as the Warriors played well enough to win some nights, but struggled to score. “You reach a certain point ... if they’re not going to be upset by an opposing player challenging our whole bench then I guess I have to be.”

Following his second fight of the game Saturday, Pats veteran Dyson Stevenson pointed at the Warriors bench. Stothers wants to see his players play harder and with more emotion — both for the game and for their teammates — moving forward.

Stothers spent the majority of his pro career in the Philadelphia Flyers organization. He played the game hard and with an edge. When Stothers talks about playing the game hard, it’s not code for fighting. Instead he wants his players to take the body, be physical and win one-on-one battles. Too often this season, the Warriors have been guilty of winning those battles.

“For the most part their makeup is their makeup,” Stothers said when asked if playing with that kind of edge was teachable. “They might be the nicest bunch of kids I’ve ever had. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone because you’re playing a game of hockey.

“There are some great actors out there who are the shyest people in the world, but when the cameras roll they put on the performance of a lifetime. When the puck drops, put on the performance of a lifetime.”

Stothers knows that he isn’t going to turn this group into the Broad Street Bullies — nor does he want to — but he wants them to try find the will to battle the way they need to battle to be successful.

Two of the players who were the most active in stepping in to stand up for their teammates were relative newcomers Scott Cooke and Jesse Forsberg.

After the loss Forsberg said

“We’re not going to let guys like (Brayden Point) or Sam (Fioretti) or other skilled guys get pushed around,” said Forsberg. “It was good to see the guys step up and show them that we’re not going to back down.”

The Warriors host the Pats Friday night at home on Teddy Bear Toss Night and then host the Brandon Wheat Kings Saturday.

Tribe tidbits ... Sam Fioretti didn’t practice Monday due to illness.

Organizations: Philadelphia Flyers organization

Geographic location: Regina

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