Graduation day

Matthew
Matthew Gourlie
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Forsberg and Fioretti move on after lengthy WHL careers

Sam Fioretti and Jesse Forsberg have logged a lot of kilometres during their time in the Western Hockey League.

Forsberg has played 307 games, while Fioretti's 289 games have all come with the Moose Jaw Warriors. Both players spent a season as the captain of their teams.

Saturday the 20-year-olds played their final WHL game. Over their lengthy junior careers they became better hockeys players, but just as importantly, they became better people. They learned a lot about the game and themselves.

"I had some tough times when I was younger in the league, but I think I grew tremendously as a person," said Forsberg. "Getting a chance to wear a C for a year and getting the chance to be a leader on these teams has been a real humbling experience.

"I've learned how to work hard and how to work with people. I've learned how to dedicate myself to something and I think the biggest thing is how to overcome things. Things don't always go your own way and you have to look past it and keep moving forward."

The Warriors had their share of adversity this season, but Fioretti feels this season's hardships will make the returning players better and he expects them to build off of what they learned this season.

"Maybe things didn't go our way at points… but there's always little lessons that the guys can take going into next year. Ultimately, the biggest thing, is that you have to hate to lose," said Fioretti who went from an undrafted list player to the 29th captain in Warriors' history over four seasons.

"It was definitely an adjustment period being the captain," said Fioretti. "You're leaned upon and looked at a little more every night, but I enjoyed the pressure. It taught me a lot about how to communicate with people. You have to bring your best each and every night. You have to have accountability within yourself so you can hold others accountable."

Fioretti finished with exactly 200 regular season points. He was named the teams Humanitarian of the Year for his involvement initiating two new programs. Warriors workouts saw players go into schools to talk about health, nutrition and fitness. Another program partnered with the Moose Jaw Police Service to go into schools to talk about bullying, drugs and alcohol and cyber bullying.

"It's pretty sad. It's been four years of my life. I've enjoyed every minute of it and I'm just sad to say goodbye to this part of my life," said Fioretti who listed the 2012 run to the Eastern Conference final as the highlight of his WHL career.

"You can get pretty close to a group of guys when you go as far as we did. It is definitely the thing that I'm going to remember the most," said Fioretti.

Forsberg was taken 11th overall in the bantam draft by the Prince George Cougars. He was the Cougars captain before asking for a trade. He was dealt to Seattle for his 19 year old season. He only played two games with Seattle this season before losing out in their overage battle.

"I had a couple of tough times there, but I worked through it and I'm pretty proud of my career looking back on it," said Forsberg who set career highs with 10 goals and 36 points this season in 60 games.

While the Waldheim product wasn't in Moose Jaw long, he was grateful for his time in the Friendly City.

"It's hard to hold back the tears. It's really overwhelming. It's hard to go out with a loss like that, but it's been an amazing time and I'm so happy I was able to finish off in Moose Jaw," said Forsberg. "It's such a unique place. Both the community itself and the relationship the team has with the community. It's second-to-none in the league. It's been such a good experience to be to be part of this organization."

Forsberg will join the Colorado Eagles of the ECHL for the remainder of their season. This summer to decide if he wants to try to take the pro route or head to school and play CIS hockey.

Fioretti is pretty certain that he will be headed to university in the fall.

"Right now it looks like the CIS is where I'm heading. Which school is up for debate right now," said Fioretti.

Though they are both leaving, Warriors head coach Mike Stothers expects them to have a lasting impact on the returning players.

"Forsy wasn't around as long, but he swooped into the room and kind of embraced it and everyone embraced him. I think that has to do with his personality. He saw the need for that kind of an out-going, energetic and intense individual," said Stothers. "Sammy is a perfect example of a guy that had to do everything the hard way. Nothing was given to Sammy. He wasn't drafted. When I first got here you had (Dylan) McIlrath and (Quinton) Howden who were first rounders and no one seemed to ever talk about Sam. You couldn't help but notice the extra effort he put in. His growth as a person and a hockey player is very satisfying.

"I'm proud of him. He's a great kid."

Organizations: Moose Jaw Police Service

Geographic location: Seattle, Moose Jaw, Friendly

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