The Calgary Hitmen were playing for a division title.
© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Jesse Forsberg of the Moose Jaw Warriors celebrates his goal in front of teammate Jack Rodewald.
The Moose Jaw Warriors were playing for pride.
The Warriors showed a lot of resilience as they rebounded from a 9-2 loss in Prince Albert with one of their best games of the season. They ended the Hitmen's 13-game point streak with a 6-1 win Wednesday at Mosaic Place.
"All of the guys had a fire in their belly and we really wanted that one," said Warriors centre Brayden Point who scored three times and added an assist. "It says a lot about those guys in the room. We may not win every game, but we have a lot of compete and we have a never-quit mentality."
The Warriors (18-40-3-6) will travel to play Saskatoon Friday before hosting Edmonton Saturday night.
Point and Tanner Eberle staked the Warriors to an early 2-0 lead as they took the game to the Hitmen.
"We just seemed flat off the start. Our willingness to get to traffic areas, to get to their net and prevent them getting to ours was something we've done very well the last little while and tonight that just wasn't the case," said Hitmen head coach Mike Williamson. "We had a lot of areas of our game and lot of guys on our team that didn't play well tonight."
Point scored on the first shift of the second period before Calgary began to gain some momentum. Joe Mahon finally beat Warriors goalie Justin Paulic, but less than two minutes later Warriors defenceman Jesse Forsberg ripped a rocket past Calgary goalie Mack Shields to give the Warriors a 4-1 lead.
"Obviously they're a good team — they're first in the conference for a reason — but we had our legs moving, we had our speed and our compete," said Point who completed his hat trick early in the third period before Jack Rodewald scored into an empty net.
Paulic was in goal for all nine goals against Tuesday as Zach Sawchenko was out of the lineup. He rebounded from one of his poorest outings of the season with one of his best. He made 41 saves against the Hitmen. While he wasn't under the onslaught the shots may suggest he made key saves at the right time to keep his team in front.
"(Tuesday) night was not a game I'd like to remember," said Paulic. "For the whole team to come play like that was huge. It was a great win."
It had been more than years since the Warriors had last beat the Hitmen.
"You look at the score (in Prince Albert) and you think 'oh boy we're coming home to Calgary' and I thought the response was terrific from everybody," said Warriors head coach Mike Stothers who was happy with his team's ability to limit odd-man rushes. "Our forwards did a great job of getting back tonight and supporting our D, knowing we only had five (defencemen). I thought Paulic responded and rebounded really well. It was like night and day."
After a long season the post-game mood was night and day from many nights in Mosaic Place this season.
"Calgary is a good team. I think they can go a long way. They've kind of hard their way with us. It was nice to see the underdog — even if it was just for one evening — get a win. It feels good," said Stothers.
Ben Duperreault joined Point and Rodewald on the top line and had three assists. Rodewald finished with four points.
The Warriors fans gave the team a standing ovation as the clock ran out and the players appreciated the gesture.
"We saw our fans standing up for us and I think that will go a long way for us," said Point. "We haven't given them much to cheer about, but seeing how behind us they are it's awesome. Moving forward that's always going to be motivation for us."
Tribe tidbits … Warriors defenceman Dallas Valentine and Zach Sawchenko were both out due to the side effects of the meningitis medication they are on (for more please see page 8). Brett Banda was the Warriors emergency goalie…. Former Moose Jaw Warriors captain Kendall McFaull has been named to the Canada West first-team all-rookie team as a member of the Univ. of Saskatchewan Huskies.