Warriors silence Broncos with late winner

Matthew Gourlie
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Yakubowski scored winning goal with 4.1 seconds left

SWIFT CURRENT — The Swift Current Broncos and Moose Jaw Warriors spent most of Saturday proving how much they dislike each other.


Then Warriors left winger Jaimen Yakubowski threw a little gasoline on the fire.

Yakubowski scored the game-winning goal with 4.1 seconds left to give the Warriors a 4-3 win over the Broncos. He then staked his claim as public enemy number 1 in Swift Current by skating to centre ice, stopping on the Broncos' logo and hushing the 2,205 fans at the Credit Union i-plex before his teammates mobbed him.

The late dramatics were a fitting end to frenetic and ill-tempered contest between the two division rivals. The Warriors took an early 3-0 lead before the Broncos clawed back to tie the game late in the third period.

With overtime looming, Warriors captain Brayden Point was able to use some sleight of hand to steal the puck from Broncos defenceman Dillon Heatherington in the corner and feed Yakubowski who was alone in front of the net. 

"It felt great" said Yakubowski of the goal. "Pointer found me there… I can't say enough about that pass from him."

Both teams were coming off of a loss and came ready to play from the outset.

"They had a tough loss (Friday), so I knew they were going to come out hard. I knew it was going to be a tough, rugged game," said Yakubowski who finished with three points. "I like getting under the opponent's skin and these physical, tight games are the kind of games I want to play in. I like competing in them and I think it's the same for all of the other guys in the room."

The Warriors 20-year-old was in the centre of everything all night. He drew the ire of the Broncos for a high hit on Heatherington early in the second period. They weren't overly impressed with his celebration either.

"I played against him in the other conference, in the west, and he's one guy that I don't care for — at all," said Broncos' 20-year-old Carter Rigby who picked up a roughing penalty for his mistreatment of Yakubowski after a whistle. "To see him score that (winning goal), get two tonight and then do that (celebration) doesn't sit well with me. There will be a time when we can get him back and I'm sure we will."

Both sides have plenty of scores to settle when they finally meet again on Jan. 16. There were only 26 minutes in penalties — including a fight between Penner and Ayrton Nikkel — but it looked like Hudson Bay Rules for much of the night. There was a price to be paid any time a player had the puck and the Warriors didn't back down.

"It was a good game. It was exciting to play in" said Warriors' 20-year-old right winger Jack Rodewald who lost half of his front tooth on the night. "I'm proud of the guys. We talked after the first that we're going to have to take a hit to make a play. We wanted to stay out of the battles after the whistle and make sure we didn't take undisciplined penalties. I think we did a good job of that. Some guys paid the price, but we made some good plays off of it."

After a slow start Friday, the Warriors jumped out to a fast lead. Yakubowski deflected a Tyler Brown point shot past Broncos' goalie Travis Child who was making his second start of the season. After scoring on their first shot, the Warriors' scored three minutes later through Point. Tanner Jeannot finally won a lengthy battle in the corner and found Linden Penner alone in front to give the Warriors a 3-0 lead after 10:27.

"I didn't think there many big momentum shifts, it was really just back and forth all night," said Rodewald. "It was nice to get that last goal and not give them any points."

The win improves the Warriors' record at 6-4-0-1 and moves them into a tie for second place in the East Division. They're tied with the Broncos with 13 points, but have three games in hand.

The Broncos were coming off of an 8-3 loss in Brandon Friday night that saw them surrender five goals in the final 8:43 of the third period to lose.

"It's two games back to back that I thought we should have had. We clawed our way back, but we have to work on our starts and make sure we're ready to go," said Rigby. "They battled hard. It was physical. To comeback like that is big, but at the same time to lose with four seconds left is a huge dagger to the heart."

Rigby started the comeback by scoring a power play goal late in the first period. Tyler Steenbergen scored in the second period and Glenn Gawdin tied the game with 2:23 left. Gawdin's goal came off of a Broncos' odd-man rush when two Warriors forwards went to the net and Tanner Eberle's shot missed the frame and had the Broncos' going the other direction in a hurry.

"We have to learn to close out games when we're in one-goal games. In the last couple of minutes we need to make sure we have a guy high and not give up an odd-man rush," said Rodewald. "It's still early in the season and those are things we can clean up."

Zach Sawchenko made 24 saves for the Warriors and Child stopped 27 shots for the Broncos.

The Warriors were without Noah Gregor, who was injured Friday. Gregor's arm is in a sling and he is expected to be out for a substantial amount of time. The Warriors are hoping he won't require surgery, but are expecting to know more by Monday. Gregor was slated to play for Canada at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge from Nov. 2-8.

Organizations: Credit Union, East Division

Geographic location: Swift Current, Brandon, Canada

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