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Matthew
Matthew Gourlie
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Warriors' 20 year olds prepare for final weekend; Gardiner looking for debut

Sam Fioretti and Jesse Forsberg have two games left in their Western Hockey League career.

Sam Fioretti from the Moose Jaw Warriors, left, tries to beat Swift Current Broncos defenceman Jordan Harris to the outside in action from earlier this season.

Ryan Gardiner is hoping to make his WHL debut.

It will be a night of farewells and introductions this weekend as the Moose Jaw Warriors finish off the regular season with a home-and-home with the Swift Current Broncos. They will conclude the regular season at home Saturday (7 p.m., Mosaic Place).

"I'm sad about it but I'm excited. It's been such a great time in my life and I'm excited to go out and try to get two wins," said Fioretti, the Warriors captain.

Fioretti — who has 19 goals and 54 points in 63 games so far this season — is going to see his point totals dip this season in what has been a hard season all around for the Warriors. Despite the frustrations that came throughout the season, Fioretti had no desire to leave his only WHL home.

"I would have liked to have finished this year in the playoffs and taken this team as far as we could go, but it is what it is. I wouldn't change being here for anything," said Fioretti. "It's been a fun season. I've had a lot of fun playing with this group of guys and I'm going to be sad to see it go."

It's always easier when you're winning and the Warriors have won four straight games heading into the weekend and they're 6-3 in their last nine games.

"We've turned some heads a little bit. We've had some big wins and it's definitely been a lot of fun," said Fioretti.

The Calgary product said he would like to win his final junior game — a feat that not many players enjoy — but also wants to give the home fans one more victory.

Gardiner was one of four 16-year-old defencemen fighting for a spot on the team in training camp. Tyler Brown won the battle, but Gardiner returned to the Winnipeg Thrashers where he was one of the top midget AAA players in Manitoba.

"I got a lot of ice and I improved as the year went on," said Gardiner who felt the defensive side of his game improved.

penalty killing and power play.

He was selected to play for Team West at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge over the holidays and finished the season with four goals and 19 points in 39 games with the Thrashers.

Gardiner will be the only player called up by the Warriors for the final weekend. There is no guarantee that Gardiner will dress in one of their final two games, but the six-foot-one defenceman is keen to make an impression if he gets the chance.

"I want to show them what I can do — be a shut down player, make good passes and create scoring opportunities," said Gardiner who was the Warriors third round bantam pick in 2012. "This week I just want to play to the best of my ability and get the coach's eyes open and in the summer I just need to work hard."

Gardiner will have to earn a roster spot in the fall, but he's excited to start his junior career.

"I'm really excited for next year. Hopefully we can make a big jump and get going again," said Gardiner.

Tribe tidbits … the Warriors will hand out their annual awards Saturday night 10 minutes before the start of the game.

Organizations: Warriors

Geographic location: Manitoba

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