Warriors play well in loss

Matthew
Matthew Gourlie
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Moose Jaw wraps up season at home tonight

As much as Mike Stothers hates to lose, it's possible that the inconsistency his Moose Jaw Warriors have displayed this season has been even more vexing.

Moose Jaw Warriors

Friday the Warriors lost 5-4 to the Swift Current Broncos in the penultimate game of a disappointing season. While the loss snaps the Warriors four-game winning streak, Stothers was pleased with how team played and is happy to see them string together five straight strong performances.

"I felt we played good enough to win. it was a good game and the guys worked hard," said the Warriors head coach.

The Warriors (21-41-3-6) will conclude the regular season Saturday (7 p.m., Mosaic Place) when they host the Broncos.

Neither team has anything to play for, but Stothers doesn't expect that to quell the intensity between the division rivals too much.

"There's some dislike of the opposition, so I expect both teams to play hard," said Stothers.

Both teams played hard Friday night in the iPlex. 

Brayden Point and Bryson Gore staked the Warriors to a 2-1 first period lead before the Broncos went ahead 3-2 in the second until Warriors captain Sam Fioretti tied the game late in the middle frame.

"It was a fast-paced game. There were some long stretches where there weren't any whistles. It was pretty good hockey," said Stothers. 

Colby Cave gave the Broncos a 4-3 lead midway through the third period.

The Warriors earned a late power play to try to tie the game, but Jay Merkley scored his second of the night into an empty net with 36 seconds left. Gore scored his second goal of the game on the power play with 11 seconds left.

It was Gore's second multi-point game in the last eight days and leaves him with 10 goals on the season.

"He had a really good night. It was nice to see. It's been a long time coming," said Stothers.

Warriors defenceman Ryan Gardiner made his WHL debut after being called up from the Winnipeg Thrashers at the end of his midget AAA season.

"He played well in the moments he was out there. We tried to ease him in a little bit and get him some good match-ups," said Stothers. 

The Broncos were battling to stay alive in the hunt for the East Division title. The Regina Pats picked up a point in their 4-3 overtime loss to Brandon to clinch the East Division crown. Brandon is two points ahead of Red Deer and Prince Albert in the race for the final playoff spot, but Red Deer still has a game in hand. 

Scott Cooke returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday's game with an lower body injury. Defenceman Kirk Johnson was out due to illness and is questionable for Saturday's finale.

Justin Paulic will get the start in goal for the Warriors at home tonight.

The WHL will hold its bantam draft lottery Wednesday. The Warriors currently sit with the fourth overall pick. They could move up to second or drop as low as fifth. They have a 14.3 per cent chance of moving into that second overall draft slot.

 

Organizations: East Division, Winnipeg Thrashers

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Brandon, Red Deer Prince Albert

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