New faces shine in intrasquad game

Matthew
Matthew Gourlie
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The Moose Jaw Warriors new faces made a strong first impression Sunday night.

Ben Duperreault of Team White tries to make a move on Justin Paulic, goaltender for Team Black during the Moose Jaw Warriors intrasquad game on Sunday afternoon at Mosaic Place. 

Four of the five goal scorers in the Warriors annual Black-White intrasquad game were new to the team.

Jayden Halbegewachs and Jaimen Yakubowski each had a goal and an assist, while Noah Gregor and Kolten Olynek also scored for Team Black in a 4-1 win. Brayden Point had the only goal for Team White.

"Coming in as a new guy, even if you're a veteran, you have to prove yourself," said Olynek. "I think I did that this weekend and hopefully it carries forward from here."

After the game the Warriors re-assigned nine players: goalie Mitchell Adamyk, defencemen Brandon Armstrong, Marcus Kichton, Nick Leitner and Ben Shushkovsky and forwards Jaxen Gemmell, Tanner Jeannot, Tristin Langan and Jake Leitner. None of the nine players have signed with the team and wouldn't have been available to play in Tuesday's rookie game against the Swift Current Broncos (7 p.m., Mosaic Place). The only remaining unsigned players left in camp are defencan Collin Paradis and forward Gianluca Esteves. The Warriors have three goalies, 11 defencemen and 20 forwards left in camp.

"I've been really impressed with the young guys. (Christos) Zinis and Paradis in particular had injuries last year and we were wondering about their development and they both had really good camps," said Warriors general manager Alan Millar who also praised both Leitner brothers, Esteves, Ocean Wiesblatt and Blake Bargar for their work during camp.

"Some of the tryout guys — (Jaxen) Gemmell and (Tanner) Jeannot — fared really well. I'm impressed with the young guys and all-in-all I thought it was an encouraging camp. It had the competitiveness that we wanted."

That competition will continue and Millar threw down the gauntlet to some of his veteran players after the game.

"There's some returning guys who have to figure things out pretty quick," he said. "There's some guys where who maybe took for granted the last couple of days where were at and maybe don't understand the depth that we have and the ability of these young guys. We have some returning players who need to be better starting (Monday)."

The older players that the Warriors acquired in the off-season got off to a strong start in their new locales.

Olynek was acquired from Lethbridge in exchange for another 18-year-old forward Miles Warkentine. Olynek had 50- and 69-point seasons with the Saskatoon Contacts in midget AAA, but only managed four goals and 12 points in 57 games as a rookie with the Canes last season. The five-foot-eight spark plug is looking to bring the offensive side of his game to the table to go along with the speed and tenacity that are a big part of his game.

"Last year I wasn't playing the role I wanted to and I wasn't getting the minutes I wanted. My point production goes along with that and I didn't get that going either," said Olynek. "Coming here I want to put up points, play hard, be physical and just play my game.

"For me, with my height, I have to play that physical game. I can't shy away from anyone out there. When I play physical and play hard, my skill goes along with that and I'm able to put up points like I want to. Those two together make me the player that I am."

It was another big weekend for another new Warrior. Defenceman Austin Adam was relatively anonymous — as much as a six-foot-six defenceman can be — when he was acquired from Everett for a conditional eighth round draft pick in the summer.

Adam has four goals and 11 points in 127 career WHL games, but looked very good rushing the puck and showed surprisingly nimble feet. 

"It's something I've been working on over the summer," Adam said about his ability to rush the puck. "I would like to bring that to my game. It wasn't something I did a lot in the previous years, but it's definitely something I want to incorporate into my game to be more effectively offensively."

Adam's bread and butter will be the defensive side of the game, but the 19-year-old rarely took a wrong step in three weekend scrimmages.

"I'm glad to be here and it's a nice fresh start," said Adam. "It would be nice to get an opportunity in different roles."

Blake Bargar didn't score in the intrasquad game, but the 16-year-old from California scored five goals in the first three scrimmages to garner plenty of attention.

The Warriors will practice Monday before hosting the Broncos.

Admission for the Black-White game was a donation which then went to Journey to Hope in Moose Jaw in memory of Ethan Williams. Journey to Hope is made up of individuals in the community who are members of the Survivors of Suicide Support Group or have been affected by a loss through suicide. 

Williams died on July 29. The formed 90th overall pick in the 2012 WHL bantam draft played one game with the Warriors.

The team raised $2,000 for Journey to Hope from Sunday's game. The team is asking fans to donate in lieu of admission for Tuesday's rookie game.

Organizations: Saskatoon Contacts, Suicide Support Group

Geographic location: California, Moose Jaw

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