Warriors sputter in 2-1 loss

Matthew Gourlie
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Playing a tied game at home entering the third period, the Moose Jaw Warriors had an excellent chance to snap their seven-game winless streak.

The Warriors didn't score in the the third period and only managed two shots on goal in a 2-1 loss to the Prince George Cougars Friday night at Mosaic Place.

To add further insult, it was the player they brought in during the off-season to provide offence who scored the game-winning goal for the opposition. Todd Fiddler broke the deadlock for the Cougars with his 32nd goal of the season.

"There wasn't enough activity directed at the net and the few times there were, there was no finish," said Warriors head coach Mike Stothers. "First of all, you have to have the courage to put the puck towards the net to make a play. Whether that is driving the net yourself or giving it to someone who is going to the net. When that does happen, you have to be ready to redirect pucks, get your stick on it or stop in front and get a second opportunity. That's a matter of taking it to the middle of the ice where it's somewhat treacherous."

The Warriors will look to snap their winless skid Saturday in Regina. Their record drops to 13-30-3-5 on the season.

The Cougars have now won three straight games and moved to within six points of a playoff spot.

Fiddler cut to the net from a tight angle with 8:30 left to jam the game-winning goal past Warriors goalie Justin Paulic.

"It was a big goal. It ended up being the game-winner and I'm happy with the two points that we got. We've got a little streak going here and hopefully we can keep it going," said Fiddler who assisted on the other Cougars goal, but failed to earn a three stars selection.

The Warriors were out-shooting the Cougars 7-2 early in the game, but only managed nine shots in the final two periods.

"They're one of those teams that if you let them hang around long enough they're going to capitalize on an opportunity," said Warriors winger Jack Rodewald. "We talked about that in the dressing room before, but we didn't do a good enough job of taking advantage of our opportunities."

The Warriors have scored five goals in their four games. They are averaging fewer than two goals per game during their eight-game winless slide.

"Two shots isn't good enough by any means. We have to find a way to win. You aren't going to win with two shots in the third period," said Rodewald.

The Cougars have a lot of size on defence — two of their defencemen are six-foot-six — and the Warriors struggled to get to the front of the net or use their speed against the Cougars size.

"We were doing a good job of wide speed, but we — myself included — needed to do a better job of taking pucks right to the net and into the crease and causing problems for the goalie," said Rodewald.

The Warriors had the better of the early play and nearly opened the scoring when Josh Uhrich hit the crossbar.

Troy Bourke couldn't buy a goal for the Cougars. He hit the post twice and was looked to have Paulic beaten, but the Warriors goalie made a great poke-check with glove before Bourke could finish the chance.

Marc McNulty opened the scoring for the Cougars when he took a drop pass from Jansen Harkins on a four-on-two break and beat Paulic high on the glove side.

The Warriors scored on their first shot of the second period from behind the goal line. Uhrich tried to feed Alexey Sleptsov in front of the net and had his shot hit the skate of Cougars defenceman Sam Ruopp.

It was hardly pretty, but Uhrich put some zip on his pass and Sleptsov was crashing the net hard trying to score and it earned the Warriors some puck luck.

"With big guys, put it at their feet, put it at their pads, there's always a second opportunity if you don't score on the original one," said Stothers. "Not everything is going to be the perfect pretty play. You don't have all day to make that play. If you're passing, pass. If you're shooting, shoot."

The Warriors were missing captain Sam Fioretti who served the first game of his three-game suspension following an open-ice hit

in Kootenay. Miles Warkentine was injured in Thursday's practice and missed the game and Colton McCarthy remains injured, so the Warriors called up 16-year-old Jayden Halbgewachs from midget AAA. Halbgewachs has 21 goals and has 48 points in 33 games with the Regina Pat Canadians. He will be in the lineup again tonight.

With goalie Zach Swachenko also out of the lineup, midget AA Warriors goalie Thomas Spence sat on the bench as an emergency back-up. Spence, a former fifth-round pick of the Kelowna Rockets, can only play if there's an injury to Paulic.

Prince George called up Moose Jaw Generals defenceman Shane Collins — their third round pick in 2012 — and he made his WHL debut.

Before the game Moose Jaw's Levi Steinhauer was joined by Geroy Simon, Taj Smith, Dan Clark and Christopher Milo as they brought the Grey Cup on the Mosaic Place ice.

Geographic location: Troy, Kootenay, Moose Jaw

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