It hasn’t been reflected in the win column, but the Moose Jaw Warriors feel like they’re getting closer to finding their identity.
Moose Jaw Warriors
The Warriors looked to get bigger with a goal of being harder to play against. To that end they added defenceman Jesse Forsberg in early October and winger Scott Cooke at the end of November.
“I think there’s been some progress even though we haven’t been winning,” said Cooke who broke his fibula during the pre-season with Vancouver and has played six games to date with the Warriors. “I think it’s a step in the right direction and we’re getting closer every game. The guys are getting on the same program of what we want to do.”
Cooke has been an energetic presence on a line with Brayden Point and Sam Fioretti and the six-foot-two left winger scored his first goal of the season Wednesday night. Forsberg isn’t shy about wearing his heart on his sleeve on the ice and has added a different element to the Warriors.
“I think that’s something that Cookie and I have always done and obviously they brought us in to help in that regard. There’s a lot of guys on our team who have been stepping up physically in that regard too,” said Forsberg, a six-foot-one 20-year-old acquired from Seattle for a third round pick. “That’s one thing about hockey: anyone can get things going. All you have to do is finish your check and you can light a fire under everyone’s butt.”
Warriors head coach Mike Stothers has been happy with what he has seen so far from his two new charges.
“I love the intensity from both of them,” said Stothers. “I like the passion that they both have and they don’t internalize it. They let it spill out for the whole world to see and I love that. You can’t have 20 of those guys, but it’s one thing to want to win, but you want guys who hate to lose. Those guys don’t like losing. They’ve been great.”
The Warriors are mired in a stretch that has seen them win once in 12 games. Cooke hasn’t been in Moose Jaw for that whole time, but Wednesday’s 6-3 loss to Kelowna was a glimpse of what both players bring to the table. Forsberg didn’t back down an inch when the Warriors trailed 4-0 and Cooke continued to play the same style for the duration. Both played a role as the Warriors clawed their way back into the game against the WHL-leading Rockets.
“Cookie is such an out-going guy. He has so much energy. I hope he never starts drinking coffee,” said Stothers. “It’s good because, for whatever reason, (Tanner Eberle) has lost a little of his (jump) — maybe he was tired of being one of the only few — but Cooke gives some life and energy to everybody. It’s infectious.
“When you’re struggling and having a hard time winning, you need guys with some positive energy around you. It’s too easy to get swallowed up in the doom and gloom.
“These guys approach every day the same. They approach it like it could be their last and they’re going to enjoy it to the fullest.”
They aren’t enjoying watching the losses mount, but both are trying to bring some leadership to the team despite being relatively new to the group.
“That’s something I’ve always had as part of my game. I’ve always worn a letter and it’s something I take pride in. We have a good core of leaders here, but I want to try to step in when I can,” said Forsberg. “We’re close. We just have a few steps to take here.”
Cooke who has twice injured himself by throwing his body around with too much reckless abandon, is trying to learn from his new coach.
“I was looking at some of (Stothers’) videos and the way that he played. He thinks I play a lot like him. I think he’s a lot tougher than I’ll ever be, but I still want to play like that,” said Cooke. “Once I start doing it, Forsberg does it too and other guys will start to build off of that.”
The Warriors will try to be hard working and physical for 60 minutes when they travel to Brandon Saturday before they host the Kamloops Blazers (6 p.m., Mosaic Place) Sunday.
“All we have in our minds right now is winning and that’s what we’re here to do,” said Forsberg.