Back to basics

Matthew Gourlie
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Warriors focused on finishing chances

The Moose Jaw Warriors got back to basics Monday.

Moose Jaw Warriors

The Warriors went 0-4-0-2 on disappointing road trip. They only managed to score 11 goals in those six games. The Warriors returned to the Mosaic Place ice and worked on finishing chances in various forms for the duration of practice.

“You always have practices where you want to work on skills and fundamentals. More than that, it’s a mindset that they have to get into their head,” said Warriors head coach Mike Stothers. “You go on a road trip and score 11 goals in six games — it’s not even two a game. If you rewind it and think: ‘jeez if I had my stick on the ice here, if I had buried my chance here, if I had stopped in front of the net there, it might have been a different outcome.’”

Of the Warriors 50 games this season, 22 of them have been decided by one goal. For the second straight season, they are near the bottom of the league in scoring.

Improving their scoring is a process, but they spent Monday taking shots, deflecting shots, trying to finish in close and putting hard passes into dangerous areas right on the tape of their teammates. Simply put they spent nearly two hours trying to bury the kind of chances they might only get a handful of times in a real game.

“You see it in the game, you get chances to score and we either hang on to it too long or we miss the net or we don’t make a clean pass,” said Stothers. “It’s not a secret: you have to capitalize on your opportunities. You might only get one that whole period or even that whole game. Put the pressure on the goalie and if he makes the save, then you’re there for the rebound, but make him make a save at least.”

Warriors captain Sam Fioretti noted that with their scoring woes, it puts more importance on making the most of the opportunities that they do create.

“We need to bear down on our opportunities. We get chances every night and it’s just a matter of putting those chances in,” said Fioretti. “We’re not the most highly skilled or offensive team, so when we get chances we have to capitalize.”

Fioretti said their focus is on getting better every day and continue to work hard towards trying to earn improved results.

Win or lose, first place or last place, improvement should be the name of the game every day in Stothers’ mind.

“Every day at the rink is an opportunity to get better,” he said. “Whether you’re in first place and comfortably in the playoffs or you’re a team on the outside looking to get in and hoping for some kind of a miracle to do so. It’s also preparing for the future. You have to get better now and we have to get better down the road. And if we get better now we’ll be better down the road. You never want to miss an opportunity to improve as a player, as a coach as any kind of athlete.”

The Warriors only had eight forwards and five defencemen at practice as their high school-aged players wrote final exams. With Zach Sawchenko out of the lineup, athletic therapist — and former goalie — Brooke Kosolofski donned the pads, but didn’t need to spell Justin Paulic who faced a lot of rubber over the course of the two hours.

Sawchenko is on the mend and is expected to skate Wednesday. The Warriors are back in action Friday when they host the Prince George Cougars.

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