Warriors finishing up strong

Matthew Gourlie
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Fioretti and Rodewald each score twice as Warriors earn third straight win

For the second time in four days the Moose Jaw Warriors knocked off the Eastern Conference leaders on home ice.

Wednesday the Warriors stunned the Calgary Hitmen 6-1 to knock them out of the conference lead and Saturday they showed they weren't playing favourites as they knocked off the Edmonton Oil Kings 4-1 at Mosaic Place.

"We haven't played well in front of our home fans, but with Calgary and Edmonton coming in, those were two games where we could prove something," said Warriors captain Sam Fioretti who scored twice against Edmonton. "We don't have anything to lose. We can upset some teams and I think we've been taking some pride in that.

"We've been playing well and we've been getting rewarded for it against some pretty good hockey clubs."

Fioretti gave the Warriors a dream start when Tanner Eberle caught Oil Kings goalie Tyler Santos being indecisive with the puck behind his own net. Eberle stole the puck and fed Fioretti for the opening goal 26 seconds into the game.

The early gift was even more valuable as the Mosaic Place ice — less than 24 hours removed from the Chicago concert — was not conducive to attractive, attacking hockey.

The Oil Kings pressed for an equalizer, but Warriors goalie Justin Paulic put in another stellar effort. After making 41 saves against the Hitmen, he stopped 31 shots against Edmonton.

"It has been two really good team efforts," said Paulic who has a .973 save percentage in his last two starts. "It's awesome when we're able to play like that against these teams. It's fun.

"I'm just trying to play and take it game by game. Every game is different."

Paulic also got some help from his teammates. One blocker stop ricocheted over his head and was goal bound when Warriors defenceman Kirk Johnson cleared the puck off the goal line.

Edmonton's Henrik Samuelsson hit the post late in the first period and Brett Pollock hit the other post in the third period. In the second period Paulic stopped Reid Petryk and Curtis Lazar in close before making a strong blocker save off of Samuelsson after an extended Oil Kings power play.

"They played well. They got their opportunities. One of the biggest things you can point to is (Paulic)," said Fioretti. "If not Calgary, then this was probably his best game of the year. When you have a goalie like that back there, you have a little more confidence to do things. He definitely won us this game."

The Warriors doubled their lead when Jack Rodewald buried his own rebound shortly after he came out of the penalty box and Fioretti scored his second of the game to give the Warriors a 3-0 lead heading into the third period.

Lazar finally got the Oil Kings on the board thanks to a great no-look backhand pass from Edgars Kulda, but Rodewald scored his second of the game on a nice pass from Torrin White to ice the game.

"You have to give them credit. They executed their game plan almost to perfection," said Lazar. "We had some bounces we would have liked to have gotten. Paulic stood in his head, for sure, but we still need to be more gritty. We're preparing for the playoffs and tonight's effort wasn't good enough."

The Warriors hadn't beaten the Oil Kings since Paulic was a surprise Game 4 starter in the Warriors 5-1 win in the 2012 Eastern Conference finals.

"I've had some tough times against Edmonton — obviously in the playoffs in my 18-year-old year — and they're always a nice team to beat," said Fioretti who is closing out his junior career.

The Warriors (20-40-3-6) have won three straight games as they prepare to host the Prince Albert Raiders Tuesday (7 p.m., Mosaic Place).

The Warriors can't move up or down in the standings — they will finish 10th in the conference and fourth from the bottom in the WHL — but aren't having any trouble staying motivated heading into the final week of the season.

"It's obviously been a pretty tough season so getting three straight wins, especially against these teams, is an awesome feeling and hopefully we can keep it up," said Paulic.

The Warriors only dressed five defencemen as Reid Zalitach remains out with a knee injury and Jesse Forsberg was suspended for the game after picking up his third fighting instigator penalty Friday in Saskatoon. Brandon Potomak (upper body) remains injured as well.

Organizations: Oil Kings, Edmonton Oil Kings 4

Geographic location: Edmonton, Calgary, Chicago Saskatoon

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